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Publisher: Freeverse    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 333 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 80 MB    Graphics: 16 MB VRAM


Solace
October 7, 2003 | Zack Lipowski
Pages:123Gallery


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Unfortunately, it is in the combat where Solace skips a beat. The nature of watching a die roll on a board to determine if your unit takes damage is both boring and disrupts the pace of the game. Many TBS games use die rolls to determine attack damage, but to actually use it as the visual cue for combat is a little bewildering. Die rolling may have passed muster for a physical board game like Risk, but only serves to hurt Solace. Combat would have been much more impressive if the actual modeled units squared off instead of what feels like a cheap rip-off.

In phase four you move any units that did not participate in combat movements. This is especially helpful in going back to guard your borders after you have unleashed an invasion upon an enemy. The rule here is that you can only move units into territories you control.

Phase five is optional, and allows you to unload troops from your transports onto friendly territory.

In Phase six you are able to place the units purchased at the beginning of the turn. You can only place land units in your capital, and naval units onto adjacent sea zones. Once this is completed, the total credits from your counties are accumulated, added to your treasury, and the turn is completed.

That comprises the play-by-play demonstration of a single turn in Solace. If you find it to be lengthy, you’re not alone. This is especially noticeable in multiplayer games, where you are stuck twiddling your thumbs waiting for the other players to complete their six phases.

Game play-wise Solace is merely average. It does offer up some new ideas, but for the most part feels like a scaled down Europa Universalis II. The fact that there is only one game board with no variation in the location of the kingdoms essentially cuts Solace off at the knees. For the casual player Solace will be perfect, but for the hardcore their appetite will be hardly satisfied.

Graphics
Easily the most noticeable and perhaps best aspect of Solace is its beautifully rendered graphics. Even though Solace takes place on a 2D board with non-moving game pieces, everything is high-resolution and brightly colored. The game board itself is decorated nicely and has an ancient feel to it, as if it was drawn long ago on parchment. Both water and land have beautiful textures laid onto them to give a sense of ruggedness, and the faded backgrounds further add to the eye candy. Game pieces are smooth and nicely modeled, as is the 3D model of the rolling die.

The graphical splendor does not stop there. Solace allows you to tweak the detail of the graphics and offers many options for the resolution, depending on your system or monitor. I was able to play at 1024x768 with high details on a G4 450 MHz with almost zero slowdown or graphical hiccups. Kudos, Freeverse.

Sound
Music was never a big part of TBS games for me, mostly because it eventually became repetitive and I simply turned it off for the performance boost. Solace’s in-game music, while not excruciating, could have been better. A wide variety of instruments are used, and it fits the time period, but I was not surprised to find myself growing weary of the same old tunes. You won’t want to blast your speakers, but the music is capable at a modest level.

Solace’s sound effects are few and far between, mostly surfacing on the battle board. Naval warfare comes to mind with its booming cannons and screaming cannonballs. Infantry clash with the sound of metal on metal, and cavalry hooves thunder. I would have liked to hear more sound effects on the game board, but what is there helps to immerse you as much as possible.

Conclusion
Solace, while succeeding in spades visually, fumbles in the game play department, lacking overall replay value due to shallow mechanics and design. Basically what is there is there – you won’t be uncovering new and incredibly powerful techniques months after playing. Solace is relatively simple, but fun. Try it if you’re relatively new to the genre, but not if you’re a seasoned veteran.



Solace
Publisher: Freeverse
Download Solace Demo


Pages:123Gallery




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