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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: World Supremacy (PC)

World Supremacy is a strange beast. It somehow tries to sneak casual, light strategic action into a hardcore wargame package. I’m not entirely convinced it works, but I personally found it a lot of fun.

Control the world, Risk-style

See, on the surface, it’s not even close to being accessible. The world map is functional, the unit icons are just that – icons – and animation is limited to said icons sliding around a map. With such lip service paid to the game’s aesthetics, the first thing you’re going to think when playing this game is “what have I got myself into?”, and, unless you’re a grognard fan with a games collection including the likes of Combat Command, Field of Glory and TacOps4 (all of which have superior presentation, mind), that’s not a good first impression.

Once the game starts though, it’s actually little more than a slightly more varied version of Risk. The aim of the game is to capture territories, and you do this by building up a stronger military than your opponents. Though there’s a fairly large range of units available, their utility is minimal and really the only rule to remember is ‘the more expensive, the better.’ Once you enter combat with an enemy the map scrolls down to a tactics-style turn based grid, and the more expensive units have a distinct advantage in such melees.

The tactical map shows just how ugly this game can get. Look past it and it's really good fun still

There’s a limited capacity to build up territories to provide more funds, but for the most part the game follows the same timeline as a Risk game – once one player starts to dominate, the constant influx of more cash and resources over his opponents means it’s easier to outgun the opponent, and the victory screen is not far away.

The AI is intelligent enough for this formula, and there is the odd moment where superior strategy (such as using the superior range that some units offer) wins though, and those moments are hugely rewarding. But ultimately Risk is Risk, and while it can be entertaining, it’s also a flawed and limited strategic experience. World Supremacy suffers from many of the same issues.

It's a pity that the people that should really enjoy this game will probably skip past it

But, while this review might sound harsh, the reality is that World Supremacy is an enjoyable game. It’s just an uncomfortable mix; an unwelcoming surface hiding an accessible game, so I’m not quite sure who Shrapnel games is aiming for with this title.

If you are a fan of the likes of Risk, and other ‘light’ strategy games, then give this a go, it might just prove to be a hidden gem. For the more serious wargamers, Shrapnel has a number of other, far more complex games to get your teeth into.

Review: World Supremacy (PC)
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