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Written by  :  Kasey Chang (4617)
Written on  :  May 05, 2005

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

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One of the most underappreciated RTS ever

The Good

Lots of units, each different // ability to customize a unit with new weapons // different personalities fly/drive differently and has different levels of aggression and so on // resources are important, but not TOO important as the personalities give you some way of "automating" some of the tasks, leaving you to strategize // a story that actually makes sense, rather than just bazillion units fighting // ability to either take control of units directly or just direct their profiles to fight

The Bad

Graphics engine a bit outdated // perhaps TOO different from RTS where you basically out-produce the AI // British style story may not quite catch American eye // some battles can drag on for HOURS if one doesn't know how to approach it // Controls aren't that intuitive

The Bottom Line

Antaeus Rising is basically an RTS but with several key improvements. Some may not like these "improvements" as they do not match the common RTS mold. On the other hand, they add new wrinkles to the RTS genre and makes the game challenging in a very different way. Those who are used to conventional RTS will likely hate the game, while those seeking a new challenge and willing to learn the system will enjoy the fresh challenges.

You are basically in control of the cruiser Antaeus, which is also your primary battle control center. You have a full 3D map of the surrounding area and can issue orders on this map, fully rotatable and zoomable. The ship itself has a set of broadside cannons that can fire limted number of salvos that can be used to knock out specific targets... If you have a unit that can do the spotting. However, the ship will not be doing the fighting. The ship is also equipped with 4 nano-manufacturing bays capable of building new units in an eyeblink, provided that enough material/energy is available in the storage capacitor banks.

The material/energy is the "resource" in this game. While you do gather resources, you are limited in amount of units you can produce and use (due to number of Soulcatcher chips you have). The harvester can gather the resources automatically (if equipped with a chip) and you can pretty much leave it alone unless it wanders into hostile territory.

Each deployed unit, unless under your direct control, requires a Soulcatcher chip profile to run. This means you must concentrate on quality and weapons and tactics instead of quantity. And each profile / soul has a personality who are better in certain things. You can send an aerial specialist to drive a ground vehicle, but don't expect top performance!

The backstory is excellent, is a bit on the sappy side. The opposition's motives were never really explained, but it wasn't that necessary. The cutscenes and voiceovers are excellent, all rendered with the in-game 3D engine. Even the level loading screens takes place on a map showing the cruiser moving from one island to the next, searching for the enemy. Production value is excellent.

Antaeus is not a twitch game, so the controls aren't as intuitive as one may suspect. It does not detract from the game that much except for twitch gamers. You don't control the units directly AND you don't have too many units cluttering up your fight. This means you don't have to micromanage each unit, but it's a feature not always appreciated.

The units vary from helicopters to VTOL jets, from tanks to stealth vehicles, and even hovercrafts. Most have a normal form and an advanced form. You don't have all the designs right at the beginning, and you must acquire new designs in order to build the new units later. Introducing the new units are done very nicely and each new units actually does help.

Each of the units are modular and can fit items like armor, shields, Soulcatcher unit (so the unit becomes autonomous albeit still subject to orders), repair module, recycler (i.e. harvester) module, and more. Advanced units can mount two weapons while beginning units mounts only one. Each of the weapons are also different, from simple chain gun to missiles to EM gun that disables targets to long-range lasers and howitzers. You have a good variety of weapons that are suitable for different platforms and different tactics. Indeed, you'll need to invent a few in the course of the game (or read the FAQ).

The goals in the mission are logical, and are sort of self-directing. In order to destroy the enemy, you must stop his production, which means push them back until you can destroy either their energy source (the energy wells / storage) or their production facilities. Thus, you mount an amphibious assault where gunships take care of ground-based howitzers and turrets whle hovercrafts destroy SAM and AAA sites. When the area is clear, bring in the recylcer to absorb the energy/metal from the wreckage, while you use your new beachhead to push the enemy back, build some of your defenses, and proceed to clear the island one piece at a time.

Each level has a somewhat different challenge. Some levels are timed, while others includes escort, search and rescue, search, to babysit a convoy of scientists. Others are simply annihilation.