The War Of The Worlds

(Jeff Wayne's)

An album and an old story by H. G. Wells? What good could possibly come of that? Well, it seems a game with a cool story and som really nice music is a possibility. Basically a turn based strategy game with realtime combat, The War Of The Worlds manages to feel quite a bit more realistic than other RTS games. Here, you don't slap up a base in five minutes; the Command Post, which is required for further construction, takes at least twenty days to build. This is made endurable by UFO-style time acceleration, pull a slider to speed things up, which works good. All long-term strategy is handled from the war map, a large map of mainland Britain split up in sectors. Each sector can also be viewed as a battle map. It is on the battle maps you place buildings and defences, not to mention fight.

On the battle map, the terrain is pre-rendered while all units and buildings are 3d models of wonderful detail. The human units are mostly quite small, giving you this feeling of ordering little toys around. Then you encounter your first Martian, and you units will feel even smaller. Martian units consist mostly of large, sleek and menacing-looking walkers, bigger and badder than the puny human lorries. The humans make up for it in numbers, and this adds to the great feeling of the battles. When you have fifteen armoured track layers backed up by twenty self propelled guns any Marsian showing its face is in for some serious pounding. Pounding displayed with very nice light and sound effects. And they get even better at night, when all human units turn their headlights on ...

As the maps are linked, there are lots of strategies you can employ which no other RTS game can match. You can send you units into a map, do some damage and then pull back. Then, when you know what you're up against, you can send in some real force where it will hurt the most. There are no set missions, you are free to choose any target or conflict you like.

The music deserves credit too. It is taken from the album the game is "based" on and is just as good as anything Command & Conquer can put up. Also, it has a style of its own, feeling very alien and eerie at times, adding tons to the mood.

So, you say, what's bad then? Well, there's not much in the gameplay itself, but rather in the design of the game. Biggest problem is probably the lack of a multiplayer option, but on the other hand I can't really imagine how to do it for two players. The time-handling simply wouldn't work, and I suppose that's what the designers thought too. And there's notihng else than the campaigns to play, no single missions or editor or anything, meaning the longivety may be hampered if you find the campaigns too easy or short. On the other hand, you probably don't use all the available units and options during one campaign, so there's at least something to replay for, more than there is in Red Alert for example.

This is a very good game, no doubt, but there isn't enough of it. It is well executed, great to play, looks and sounds great, but ends too quickly.

Game review by Scott Hunter.

Want to play multiplayer? Check this page out! All about the game's registry entries!

Human strategy.

Martian strategy.


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