We delved into the universe of Mistbound with a first hands-on with W!Games' industrial turn-based strategy game. Having conquered the equestrian lifestyle with My Horse and Me, Amsterdam-based W!Games is ready to move to its next challenge. The company has set itself the not-inconsiderable task of establishing a brand-new gaming universe, complete with a full backstory and cast of characters, in which a series of games will be set. The first of these is Greed Corp, a turn-based strategy game whose simple exterior belies the deep chesslike experience that lies beneath. We were lucky enough to get our hands on a preview build of the game and try out the multiplayer skirmish mode.
Greed Corp is set in the fictional Mistbound universe, which has been ravaged by overmining and industrial construction. The heavy industrialisation has caused great swathes of the earth to collapse, creating vast canyons and separating the earth into islands surrounded by a deep mist. The remaining patches of land are controlled by four rival factions: the Empire, the Cartel, the Pirates Trade, and the Freemans. All the factions are playable in the single-player campaign, with six stages available for each. The same four factions are also available to play in the game's skirmish mode, which pits any combination of four human or computer-controlled players against each other.
Setting up a skirmish match is extremely easy, with the aim being to destroy all your opponent's units. After choosing which faction to play as, and whether your opponent is a computer- or player-controlled character, you pick a map to play on and you're straight into the game. Each map is tailored to the number of people participating, so two-player maps are not accessible if there are three or four people playing. Not all the maps are available from the start, but they can be unlocked in the campaign mode, and because the game is turn-based, only one pad is required for multiplayer.
Each map is made up of sets of hexagonal tiles. Each tile has a different height ranging from one to six, represented by a circular icon made up of six dots, which appears when you highlight it. Tile height is extremely important to the gameplay, because when a tile's height goes below zero, it disappears from the map, taking down any units or buildings that are on it.
At the start of a match, each player has just one standard unit, called a walker. These are the workhorses of your faction and can be used to take over enemy buildings or destroy other walkers. Walkers can move only as far as one tile per turn if it is not already part of your territory, or any number of tiles within your territory as long as there is a clear path of tiles to them. The number of walkers you have on any tile dictates how many the enemy will need to destroy them and take over the tile. For example, if your team has four walkers on one tile, the enemy will need at least four to be able to take it over. If the enemy sends across only three, one of your walkers will remain, keeping you in control of the tile.
More walkers can be built using an armory, which has to be built using gold resources. A small amount of gold is given out at the beginning of each player's turn, and more can be acquired by building a harvester. However, at the beginning of your turn, using a harvester lowers the height of the tile it is built on and the tiles surrounding it. This initially seems like a disadvantage, but it can be used tactically to destroy enemy territory. By moving your walkers to an enemy tile and capturing it, you can then build a harvester and wipe out a large amount of enemy land quickly. This is helped by another unit called a carrier, which allows you to move any unit to any other tile, albeit for a large amount of gold.
The final unit is the cannon. This allows you to fire a shot up to five tiles away and destroy walkers. It can also kill lowered land, which causes the surrounding tiles to collapse. Though there are only a handful of units, the strategy is extremely deep, and the game gives you just 30 seconds of thinking time before plotting your moves. This leads to some frantic moments, and there is great fun to be had in outthinking your opponent, particularly when you can pull off a move he's not expecting.
W!Games has developed its own engine for Greed Corp, which looks great. The art style is steam-punk, mixing Victorian materials with modern ideas, such as the giant mechanical walkers. The environments are simple but varied, with different seasons affecting the look of the tiles, ranging from green grass in the summer, to snow-covered rocks in the winter. There are some nice graphical touches to the unit animations, particularly the carriers, which resemble blimplike creations ferrying your units to the far sides of the map.
Greed Corp is due out on Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and the PC in the first quarter of next year. Look out for more on the game in the coming months on GameSpot.
"PlayStation 3 | Greed Corp Hands-On" was posted by Mark Walton on Fri, 11 Dec 2009 09:43:43 -0800