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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Preview: Advanced Tactics: Gold (PC Download)

Matrix Games knows its niche. Its games range from intelligent strategy games to the truly hardcore. Look at Harpoon. Its brand of strategy is so strong that the military make use of it.

Matrix Games also has a unique approach to its properties. As evidenced by Harpoon, Matrix and the developers it publishes are fans of incremental improvements, and continued support over a long period of time. Perhaps recognising that the niche appeal these games have suit Wargame hobbyists rather than traditional gamers, refining existing, familiar systems seems to be a better way of keeping the fans on side than a Call of Duty-stle release cycle.

This is the kind of game that's going to have you thinking hard

As it is with Advanced Tactics: Gold, an upcoming 'new' Wargame from Matrix and developer, VR Designs. Now, Advanced Tactics already exists, but Advanced Tactics: Gold adds some new features that will give fans something extra to sink their teeth into, while also becoming somewhat more approachable for newcomers.

Not that this kind of game is ever instantly accessible, but longer term it's an addictive and rewarding style of game. See, while a strategy game like Advance Wars allows you to build units and manage resources, and some even more advanced games take flanking into account, Wargames go a step above, forcing you to consider chains of command, supply lines, morale, political conditions and perhaps even weather.

Yes, we know it's not as pretty as RUSE. But it's deeper

Inferior strategy will then lead to a quick loss. At the same time superior strategy will pull you right out of the game and have you thinking like a real general. It's a compelling experience.

Advanced Tactics: Gold features a visual upgrade over its predecessor. Serious Wargames are never going to be the most beautiful works of art out there, but functional visuals can still be pretty and modern, and from the screenshots, this game does a good job of evoking its board game heritage. The game looks like a carbon copy of similar-themed board games (little coloured squares to represent armies and hex grids and everything), which again will be instantly attractive to anyone who's played one before.

You'll be able to download a play a whole range of community-produced scenarios

There's an expanded Wiki and improved rulebook to help people make sense of what's going on, but perhaps what's most interesting about this game is it supports community-made scenarios. The benefit to a game with this kind of niche appeal is the community-made scenarios should be, on a whole, well-considered and interesting. Matrix promises the engine can handle everything from naval battles to science fiction and fantasy wars, so there should be something for almost everyone there.

The other improvements to this release have been made as a result of community feedback, Matrix claims. While we don't have a firm release date yet, Wargamers should keep an eye on this one - it's going to keep you very, very busy.

The sheer scale of this game is impressive

Preview: Advanced Tactics: Gold (PC Download)
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