GC 2008: Stormrise Impressions

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At the Leipzig Games Convention this year, there were in fact two promising RTS titles with very similar backgrounds who both claimed to have perfected the console RTS control system. On the one hand, we have Ubisoft Shangai’s EndWar with ex Creative Assembly designer Michael De Plater at the helm, whilst on the other hand, we have SEGA and errr ... Creative Assembly with their post apocalyptic Stormrise... Notice the pattern there? Anyway, both games boast totally different and unique solutions to this age old problem. We’ve seen Ubisoft’s EndWar, now it’s time to delve right in to SEGA’s Stormrise.

The code we saw at the Games Convention was “very, very, early code” so the demonstration was more a tech demo than anything else. The whole purpose of it from their point of view was to show off this fancy console RTS conquering system that could define the system. Obviously, to fix a system, you need to know what’s wrong first and Creative Assembly literally spent months and months just finalizing the perfect control scheme and getting the code in order. When they had that, they built the game around it.

Creative Assembly pinpointed the main problem as switching between and selecting your units accurately and quickly which is where their self proclaimed, revolutionary “whip select” comes in to save the day ... or so they tell us. The whole system works with right analogue working on a pivotal basis from where you are, so essentially, all you need to do is hold the analogue stick in the direction of the squad you want to take over and once they are highlighted, just let go... Simple eh? It’s actually quicker than the mouse over long distances as well, so take that PC! It gets better though. The system isn’t called “whip select” for nothing, it also allows you to flick the stick in a direction of a squad to move to which is great when you are in battle. It’s this fundamental system that SEGA and Creative Assembly believe will crack the age old console RTS control problem.

Creative Assembly have also added in an indirect command feature in to their control system to add to the ease of the controls. So instead of actually having to select the unit to give them orders, you can now give orders from anywhere on the battlefield, essentially saving you time and making your life easier, in fact, 90% of your controls are done with two sticks and one button.

Another one of Stormrise’s key features is again this whole concept of “verticality”, which seems to be a Games Convention buzz word this year, but Creative Assembly essentially use this word to push the fact that it is the first ever 3D RTS in terms of game space. What they essentially mean is that now instead of having an RTS title take place on a field with just 3D visuals, Stormrise makes full use of the 3D game space, above and below the surface, ranging from the sewers to the rooftops. To explore this whole element that little bit more, we were introduced to a “spectre”. 

A spectre is pretty much your lone super warrior who looks a bit like the Predator with very similar attributes and plays a similar role to the Commando in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars. He’s your one man tank, baby! If you thought that was cool, wait until you hear this... One of your spectre’s special abilities is no other than ... mind control! Even better is his invisibility ability. Combine the two and you have the perfect stealth weapon which could topple even the strongest of regimes, but of course, you need to earn those abilities first.

I must say that Stormrise does have a pretty strong story behind it and adding the multi layered concept to the RTS genre is pretty innovative but could be seen as a risky move, especially for a console RTS title. It’s the controls that allow it to work so well though and this very thing that will suck you in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a hands on, but seeing the action take place and literally physically controlled in front of us was enough for us to go ... “Hold on a minute, they might have something here.” Whether it’s accessible to the masses is unknown at the moment and we’ll have to wait until we get some hands on with it before we answer it. I do know one thing though and that is that we’re looking forward to get our hands on a spectre and using that crazy mind control trick on people.

Stormrise will be storming in some time in 2009 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.



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US March 24, 2009

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