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Publisher: Virtual Programming    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 800 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Savage: The Battle for Newerth
June 21, 2005 | Michael Miller

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Combining different game types is something very nearly every gamer has talked about at one point or another. With their games, Virtual Programming seems to be out on a mission to fulfill all those "wouldn't it be neat?" conversations, as so many of them seem to be a combination of at least two, and sometimes three, genres.

What it is
Savage: The Battle for Newerth sets out to combine real time strategy games with first person shooters. It does this, in essence, by answering the question "what would happen if I weren't controlling little AI troops when I played Warcraft, but real players?" Therefore, depending on what you choose, you end up either playing from the position of a commander, with the traditional RTS overhead view from where you issue your orders to the battlefield, or from the position of a soldier in said battlefield, battling it out face to face with the enemy hordes. Unless, of course, you're a sniper or a catapult, but we'll get to that.

The roles to choose from are presented to you when you first join a game. Savage is a strictly online game, so you have to choose a game from a (rather large) list of servers on which to play. Since people tend to hop into the commander slot fairly quickly, you may have to do some hunting to find the chance.

If you do land in the commander's seat, you will be presented with an interface familiar to anyone who has played any real time strategy game. You start with a small number of worker units and a large central building. Not far away, unless the map creator has been particularly cruel, will be a supply of both gold and "redstone." Redstone will make up the building blocks of your war machine, and most of your mining efforts will center around it. Using the materials that your workers mine for you, you can then research upgrades for your war units, build defensive towers, or construct new buildings that will further expand the weaponry and technology available to you.

Where things take a nice sharp 180 from the average RTS experience is that you don't build any of your soldiers: they join the game in the form of players, ostensibly under your command. I say "ostensibly" because you can select your worthy warriors and then give them any number of orders, from defending certain areas, to movement, to escorting units, and even helping build or mine. The catch lies in the fact that ultimately, it is entirely up to your units—the other players—whether or not they listen to you. The dangers of this are immediately obvious to any potential commander, but this autonomy on the part of your troops has an upside as well. Free to roam at will, your troops will never sit around idly being a waste, never bump about a battle not quite figuring out how to even fight, and, most importantly, will come up with new and creative ways to stay alive and harass the enemy.


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