|Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G5 RAM: 512 MB Hard Disk: 1600 MB Graphics: 64 MB VRAM|
|Galactic Assault: Prisoner Of Power|
February 24, 2009 | David Allen
A History of ViolenceIn many ways, this review of Virtual Programming's Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power (hereafter just "Galactic Assault") is a continuation of my review of VP's Domination, just as the former game is a continuation of the latter. It's not a sequel, in the sense of continuing a storyline, but it is a further refinement of the turn-based strategy gaming experience that the designers have been tweaking for several iterations.
A little background: Although Virtual Programming has kindly ported this game to the Mac, along with its predecessors, the original product is from Wargaming.net, a Belarus-based company who specialize in turn-based strategy games. Previous games offered for the Mac have included Massive Assault and Domination, with each successive game offering additional variations and complexity to a basic hex-mapped TBS format. Massive Assault and Domination both take place within a shared science fiction universe, but Galactic Assault takes its setting from "Inhabited Island," a 1977 novel by Russian cult sci-fi novelists Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.
If you, dear reader, are a fan of the Strugatskys, I apologize for glossing over the relationship between the book and the game; as far as I can tell the single-player campaign is loosely based on events from the book, but I don't think it really matters. At the beginning of every mission there is an excerpt from the novel, however, they are so fragmentary and, I believe, poorly translated from Russian that they really shed no light on the story at all. All you really need to know is that in each of the four chapters of the game you play as a commander of one of the four factions vying for supremacy on a faraway planet.
Each of the four factions has its offsetting strengths and weaknesses, in true time-honored RTS "rock-scissors-paper" fashion. The "Unknown Fathers" have elite divisions of forces, the "Khonties" have superior artillery, the "Insular Empire" specializes in naval and amphibious warfare, and the "Barbarians" offset their generally inferior military resources with a "quantity over quality" mob approach, akin to the Zerg in Starcraft or the Global Liberation Army of Command & Conquer: Generals.
The Forever WarIf you're familiar with Wargaming.net's-slash-VP's previous offerings, you can skip this brief synopsis of gameplay, as the basics have not changed. If you're new to it, keep reading. First, you move your units to where you want them to be, in order to attack or defend or just move closer to a tactical goal. Then you fire at any available targets, and then the combat phase ends. Because these games derive their movement systems from the old Avalon Hill style hex-mapped board games, the movement options for your units are limited to specific "hexes" (really, circles) and by the inherent mobility of the unit itself and terrain conditions that hinder mobility as well (for example, troops can move through forests, vehicles can't). The next phase of your turn is the recruitment phase, where at your main base you either build new units, upgrade your existing units, or repair damaged units that you've had limp their way back to base.
Then of course, the enemy turn begins, and you get to watch your opponent undo your plans, and start the whole cycle again.