Reviewed: November 12, 2001
Released: July 31, 2001
I have played several war games in the past few years. The first to really excite me was the Command & Conquer series, with its spectacular graphics and decent gameplay. The strategy element in the C&C games is somewhat limited by the fact that most levels can be beaten by a good tank rush. This is where most games in the RTS genre have broken down in the past. More often than not you will discover that these games have excellent graphics but somewhat limited strategy elements.
Sudden Strike is another game that really stands out for its excellent graphics, however, the strategy element in Sudden Strike was designed quite well and a “good tank rush” will result in your game ending rather quickly. That is to say that your troops will be slaughtered before your own eyes and the enemy won’t think twice about it.
Remote Assault is a game that falls in the category of excellent strategy gaming. After playing the game for quite some time I have determined that you must know something about strategy to even win on the easy setting. If you try the good old tank rush, you will end up with your forces caught in the crossfire as the enemy doubles around behind you and unleashes pure havoc on your troops. It seems that each time I tried this strategy I wound up getting whipped by the computer and starting over.
I commend the team at One Games for developing a game with a great strategy element. It is truly hard to find games with strategy of this caliber in the market today. All of the games that I have played from Shrapnel Games have been top notch when it comes to the strategy element.
The installation went without a hitch. I have run Remote Assault on multiple computers and like the other Shrapnel products that I have reviewed; this one seems to have trouble with ATI video drivers on Windows 2000. Now keep in mind that I run most of the games that I review on a Dell Inspiron laptop that has an ATI Rage Mobility M3 video chipset. The desktop systems that I have tested with Windows 2000 ran the game without any issues.
Remote Assault is a war game that takes place in the year 2063. There are no longer foot soldiers in this army of the future. Remote controlled units have replaced the human factor in this war and you are the Remote Assault Commander that has to devise a strategy that will win this war of the future. You must complete the mission objectives that are sent from mission headquarters if you are going to be successful in this war. If you complete your objectives you get to move on to the next mission, which usually has an increased difficulty level. If you fail you will move on to a mission with a decreased level of difficulty.
Remote Assault is a game where you must have a winning strategy to complete the missions. The game is not very forgiving even on the easier level if you don’t really know what you are doing. You have the option of two different campaigns and a total of 35 total scenarios when you start the game. There are many different game settings that can be modified so that each time you play it can be a different gaming experience.
Each unit has its own unique behaviors and abilities. Because of this, controlling the units can take some time to master. If you take the time to glance at the manual to find out the armor levels for the front of your MT63 tank, you may have already lost the scenario. The computer reacts quite quickly to your strategy and you must always be on your toes. There are a total of six different unit classes in Remote Assault. Each unit class has its own strengths and weaknesses within the game.
The one element of the game that I didn’t care much for was the timed scenarios. I found it difficult to execute different strategies within a scenario in order to win in the amount of time allowed. Basically, if you plan strategy like the developers you will win without running out of time. Many of the strategies you may use will eat up too much time and the scenario will end before you have executed your final attacks.
If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be lame. As I said before, I have become accustomed to playing RTS games that look excellent but really lack when it comes to the strategy element. This game is just the opposite. The screens are dark and the graphics are blocky. In order for this game to be a complete success, One Games would have to make the graphics even somewhat palatable.
I enjoyed Shrapnel’s Combat Command series. I didn’t expect 3D graphics because Combat Command is a hex based game and these types of games are marketed mainly to the strategy-aware war gaming community. Remote Assault is able to compete with games like Command & Conquer and Sudden Strike because of its great strategy element, but if it were based primarily on graphics Remote Assault would crash and burn.
The user interface is also a bit cumbersome to use. I found that I never really learned what all of the numbers and letters in the group information meant. It was hard enough to look the information up in the manual when I was just doing recon, let alone trying to read the manual while in the midst of a firefight.
Like most war games, this one lacks in the sound category as well. During the game I found myself wanting more audio alerts during combat. It would be nice to know when ammunition is low without looking at the status screens. The sound during the battles themselves is very realistic. In fact, the sound of the battle can really pull you further into the game. Of course after the battle is over you are plunged back into almost complete silence.
I will be the first to admit that most of the RTS games that I have played have lacked a good musical score. Remote Assault could have really benefited from a good musical score. In fact, it would have benefited from any type of musical score. The game doesn’t include any music except for the short blurb of music at the introduction of the game’s title.
If you truly enjoy the war-gaming genre and would like a good challenge, go out and purchase this game. If you enjoy the looks of a game more than the gameplay aspect then you will want to pass on this title. As I said before, I tend to compare most of the new war gaming titles to Sudden Strike. With this in mind I really have to say that I didn’t want to play this title any longer than I had to in order to write the review. I’ve been playing Remote Assault for over a month now and I am ready to retire it to the CD rack in the closet.
War gamers will love this game for its strategy. If you have a collection of hex-based games and other titles from Shrapnel Games then you will want to add this title to your collection. The strategy elements in Remote Assault will keep you riveted to the screen. Remote Assault also has a high replayability factor as well. You can download a scenario editor for Remote Assault from Shrapnel’s website at www.shrapnelgames.com.
Remote Assault only allows for two player games. These can be point to point over a modem, a serial connection, or a LAN. It would be nice to see this game support GameSpy Arcade. The computer can be predictable at times and the human factor is always a welcomed addition to the battle. GameSpy Arcade makes it much easier to find an opponent at any time of the day or night.
I only recommend this title to hard-core war gamers that enjoy truly difficult strategy in their games. If you enjoy titles such as Command & Conquer then stick with a more rounded-out title like Sudden Strike.
More often than not, graphics tend to make the game, and even with the excellent strategy element, Remote Assault just doesn't make the grade. Given a bit more time, this game could have been so much more. Graphics play such a large part in the gaming industry that it is very difficult to play a great strategy title without this integral part of the total experience. A game's graphics should pull you deeper into the game and make the experience that much more pleasant. The graphics should not leave you feeling as if you've missed something.
Shrapnel Games is known in the industry for making quality games with a great strategy element. Remote Assault may be a sleeper title, but only time will tell. If you enjoy strategy more than graphical eye candy then you will enjoy this game. Hopefully the developers will enhance the graphical experience on their future games. This way veteran war gamers and even people new to the genre can enjoy their products.