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Wargasm

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Digital Image Design (DID)

GAME PUBLISHER:Infogrames

Copyright 1999, Digital Image Design (DID)

Wargasm is a fun but a bit too short 3D action game in the same vein as Incoming, except with authentic military trappings that fans of DID’s hard-core flight sims can expect. Peter Smith of CD Magazine says it all about this fun, unassuming shooter in his review:

Wargasm. It’s just too easy (making a joke about the name, that is). However, when Digital Image Design (DID), creator of many hard-core simulations, set out to make an action game, using a bizarre and goofy title probably made sense.

As the name implies, this is not a simulation. Instead, it’s an action game that employs some vaguely realistic physics and a “strategy-lite” sub-game. You deploy a selection of your forces on an overhead map and can issue simple orders (go to here, attack that) or call in air strikes, recon and the like, but the core of the game is jumping into a unit and playing from a first-person point-of-view. Units consist of tanks, APCs, helicopters and infantrymen.

In addition to training missions and multiplay (cleverly dubbed “Multiple Wargasm”), the game offers Instant Action and War Web (campaign) modes. The former is a “you against the world” game of heavy metal mayhem. The latter offers a map of the world divided into continent sized regions, with the ultimate goal being global domination. Once you select a region, you’re locked into a six or seven battle mini-campaign. Win all the missions in a region and get a selection of enemy vehicles as your reward?use these to take on the next region, and so on.

The missions in the campaign game consist of destroy, defend or destroy and defend missions. The game plays best in the destroy missions. You can virtually ignore the strategy game and enjoy driving tanks around, blowing the hell out of stuff. Defend missions are harder since you just can’t be everywhere at once, so you need to count on your AI underlings to control many of the units on the map.

The biggest problem with the game is that the infantryman “vehicle” is a joke. Actually, control here is very vehicle-like?order your guy forward and he’ll start out walking slowly, then gradually build up speed into a run. The helicopter is not much better. Think of this as a tank game with a few “just for grins” add-ons. The strategy part of the game is also limited. There’s no way to tell the health of a unit, or set waypoints or patrol routes. You can’t issue orders when paused, nor can you “lasso” a bunch of units and order them to attack as in every other real-time strategy game. Granted, this isn’t really the game’s primary focus, but if they’re going to put it in there, they should do it right.

The tank driving part of the game has a few foibles as well, the biggest being a lack of control customization. There are several optional control schemes to choose from, but if none suit your personal taste, you’re out of luck. Additional flaws include an AI for your friendlies that leaves much to be desired, and a lack of mid-mission save.

Now for the good stuff. First of all, this is one of the most gorgeous games (in a martial kind of way) on the market. Tanks “brew-up” in a glorious blossom of flames and smoke. Tracers from machine gun fire kick up dirt, then spin unfortunate grunts around in a lovely dance of death. Vehicles leave plumes of dust and tracks in the dirt.

DID hit the sweet spot in difficulty. Hitting an immobile enemy when you’re stationary is child’s play. The tank’s main gun has a targeting feature that makes a SABOT round fly like a guided missile. Once everyone’s moving, though, you need to learn to lead your target. Bouncing over rough ground, trading shells with an enemy offers a damn near perfect moment of gaming. Hitting an enemy tank, then seeing it emerge from the roiling smoke and flame undeterred, it’s turret aimed straight at you, will have you gulping with fear and giggling in delight at the same time. It’s just wonderful stuff.

Will you still be playing Wargasm next Christmas? No, probably not. It’s a sweet confection of a game, delightful in small doses but it gets a bit monotonous with time. But until then, it’s great fun and recommended to gamers who don’t need six months playing time out of every title.”



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