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Publisher: Virtual Programming    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G3 @ 600 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Massive Assault
October 8, 2004 | Michael Phillips

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There are two major elements of war: the frenetic blood-soaked kill-crazed battlefield and the stratagems that create such carnage. Without proper strategy, even the mightiest army will fall to a lesser foe. A group of well-placed tanks can crush any in-coming infantry attack. A properly executed air strike can break even the most organized armored convoy. When it comes to war, strategy is truly the key. The only way to experience such strategic warfare without the fear of being incinerated by a hail of mortar fire is through gaming. We have plenty of real-time strategy (RTS) games on the Mac. However, RTS titles often test one’s reflexes more than their strategic acuity. Fortunately, a new title is here to test our skill in turn-based strategy.

Developed by, published by Virtual Programming and distributed in North America by Freeverse Software, Massive Assault (MA) is a fully 3D turn-based strategy title unlike any OS X has ever seen. Yet, new doesn’t necessarily equate to good. Remember “New Coke”? Can this turn-based strategy giant give Mac gamers the thrills they seek? Is there room in our fast-paced world for turn-based warfare? Read on as I uncover this 3D game of strategic global conquest.

Gameplay: We Have Weapons of Mass-Destruction, Honest!
In Massive Assault, players take on the role of General in the Free Nations Union (FNU), a group of countries who banded together after World War III to thwart the dreaded Phantom League. After WWIII, Earth’s resources grew scarce, thus we looked to space for survival. Despite constant strife between the FNU and the Phantom League, as well as the looming threat of World War IIII, scientists discovered six new planets suitable for human habitation. So began the mass exodus from Earth to the new worlds. New countries were formed, governments were installed and the Phantom League began their work to spread unrest in the new worlds. Through bribery and other subterfuge, the Phantom League formed secret alliances with many fledgling nations, inciting conflict from behind the scenes. Of course, the FNU soon adopts similar tactics, setting the stage for the first great war of the new worlds.

Massive Assault features 4 single-player game modes: Training, Scenario, World War and Campaign. While MA isn’t quite as deep as games like Civilization III, the Training mode is definitely an excellent way for neophytes to jump in without having to bust out a pesky manual. There are 8 total training missions, each of which covers a major aspect of MA’s gameplay. For example, Massive Assault’s combat system uses an element known as Secret Allies. On each game map, there are various countries, some of which are neutral in the war, while others belong to either the FNU or Phantom League. Then, there are Secret Allies; countries which appear to be neutral, but instead have secretly chosen sides in the war effort. Thus, one of the training missions demonstrates the mechanics and proper use of the Secret Allies system. Other missions include the basics of troop movement, naval combat (yep, MA has land, sea and air units) and armored unit transport. After going through all 8 tutorials, I didn’t see any need for the tedium of manual reading. Don’t fear Massive Assault’s learning curve.

In Scenario mode, players are given an objective against the Phantom League and must complete said objective to achieve victory. For instance, in one mission, the player must use amphibious vehicles to cross a river, land tanks and crush the enemy. There are 24 scenarios in all, each more difficult than the previous. Aside from the ability to adjust the enemy’s A.I., Scenario mode missions are basically the same each time. So, once they’re done, they’re done. That’s okay, however, Massive Assault has plenty of random replay value down the road.


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