“Halo Wars”, the best selling real-time strategy (RTS) game in the history of console gaming (having sold over 2 million copies), and probably my all-time favourite game, demonstrated that a console RTS can work, and work well. It showed that streamlined gameplay can be a benefit, allowing fast and frantic gameplay with plenty of replay value. In the same way that Halo showed that a console FPS can be a great, if different, experience than a PC FPS, so to can a console RTS be a great, if different, experience than the likes of Starcraft, C&C, and Age of Empires.
“BitzKrieg” (note the lack of an “l” anywhere in the title) is a nice attempt that has learned from what Halo Wars did right. It takes it one step further, however. Levels are small, so there’s no scrolling around huge maps here. You start with all the buildings you’ll ever get, and instead focus on taking key resource generating points. Hold those points, and you’ll be able to build more troops and equipment than the enemy. But beware sending so many of your troops to these strongpoints that a sudden enemy attack on your base overwhelms you, with your troops spread too thin to do anything about it.
My first ever RTS experience was Mega-Lo-Mania (aka “Tyrants”), and this has elements of that, and “Cannon Fodder”, and it all gels together fairly well. You defend your building, send out troops, take strong points, attack enemy positions, and try to out-guess your opponent (or opponents, in up to 4 player local multiplayer) who are trying to do all the same things. It has a singleplayer campaign with levels that remind me of “Cannon Fodder” (which I played on the Commodore Amiga and the Atari Jaguar), and even “Airborne Ranger” that I bought (yes bought, despite how easy piracy was at the time) on the Amiga what feels like a lifetime ago. It’s just action-ey to appeal to people who don’t normally go for RTSs, and just strategy-ish enough to appeal to those who usually eschew action games. The presentation is a little rough around the edges, but that was actually part of the charm for me. 80 Microsoft Points.
Here’s what the developer (Hebridean Productions) has to say about the game:
“”It’s Super Smash Strategy!” in a fast-paced Real Time Strategy game featuring chaotic 4-player local multiplayer, a full single player campaign including an insidious AI, and fully customisable characters! Build your army using the 4 unit types to outmanoeuvre your foes in an RTS designed specifically for console. Buy the full game to unlock multiplayer action as well as the full campaign!”