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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.6

Nuclear Dawn
November 20, 2011 | Jon Carr

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Mac OS X: 10.6.7 | CPU: 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel Processor | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 6 GB Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 2400 / NVidia GeForce 8600M / Intel HD Graphics 3000 | Not Supported: OS X 10.5.x, ATI X1600 or X1900 graphics, NVIDIA GeForce 7 graphics or Intel graphics less than Intel HD 3000. | Other: Steam required for activation

Nuclear Dawn is a new shooter/strategy hybrid developed by the Netherlands based Interwave Studios. Their only previous work seems to be a Half-Life 2 mod which makes Nuclear Dawn their first actual game. And as far as first efforts go it's impressive indeed.

At its core the game is an intense multiplayer shooter with a fairly solid real time strategy element overlaid in every match. There's a brief story not even included in the game, offered instead on the game's website, about a nuclear war that ravaged the earth and destroyed everything, leaving two remaining factions duking it out for control of what's left, but it doesn't truly factor into the game. It's a theme to set the game to and is reflected in the war-torn maps. Still, a lack of any real story doesn't hurt Nuclear Dawn because the gameplay is so good and this is, after all, a multiplayer-only shooter.

There's only one game type called Warfare, the goal of which is to destroy the enemy team's bunker. Scattered across every map are points to capture which give your team resources. These in turn are used by your team's Commander to build structures, turrets and supplies as the game goes on. The most vital resource point lies in the middle of every map and is always the most heavily contested. This leads to a frantic rush at the beginning of every game to be the first to gain control and hold it until you can get spawn points, turrets and supplies up.

There are six different maps to choose from, and each one is expertly crafted, well balanced and just plain fun to fight on. All of them are urban or cityscapes of some kind, but each map is so different from the other that it's not repetitive. You have the sand-ridden Oasis or the snow covered Silo to the sprawling destroyed Downtown. Good use of additional assets such as destroyed buildings, vehicles, rubble, bodies, trees and more give that little bit of flair to each map which just makes it feel complete and not empty. Most fights are close quarters but some feature longer, wider spaces ideal for sniping or more measured fights.

At the start of every match, or every time you die, you can spawn as one of four classes. The Assault, Engineer, Stealth or Exo. Most are self-explanatory. Assaults are your basic infantry with assault rifles and grenades. Engineers are support troops with medkits or welders to repair buildings and useful grenades like poison gas. Stealths are the speedy assassins and snipers while Exos serve as the tank-like heavies with chain guns and siege weapons. What makes each class so fun is that not only are they all well balanced with different levels of health weapons and grenades, but each one has a variety of kits to choose from which gives them more flexible roles. Some of these are available from the start while advanced kits have to be researched by your Commander before you can use them.

Every class has a special ability as well. Assault troops can use a visor to spot cloaked enemy Stealth units. Engineers either heal with medkits or repair with their torch. Exos can lockdown and become a living turret with near perfect accuracy. And Stealths can, of course, go invisible by cloaking. Every class has a counter in a somewhat rock-paper-scissors kind of way. Stealths easily get taken down by Assaults since they can be spotted with the visor. The slow moving Exos make easy prey for the quick moving Stealths, and Exos can easily take on multiple Assaults with their massive guns and high health. Engineers don't particularly counter anyone but just serve as general support to the other 3 classes.


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