Armor Command

3_1Ripcord’s Armor Command was never a bad game, but has always been much more obscure than its more advanced competitor – Battlezone – which it somewhat resembles and which came out at around the same time. While Battlezone was a mix of 3D shooter and strategy gaming, Armor Command is a more traditional real-time strategy game that happens to employ a 3D view of the battlefield. While it is not an earth-shattering game by any means, the game has enough bells and whistles to keep it going too under the radar.

Designed by Ronin Entertainment, Armor Command takes place in the year 2910, with a war being raged between the United Terran Federation (UTF) and an alien collective known as VRASS. You can play as either the UTF or the VRASS, for a total of 44 missions in single-player mode, or take on one of your friends in multi-player.

Like every other real-time strategy game out there, Armor Command essentially has you building a little base, collecting resources, and carrying out specific mission objectives. The difference here is that your defensive units are much more mobile; in most games of this ilk, once you plop down a missile tower, there it stays, and on an ever-changing battlefield, this can lead to wasted resources. With Armor Command, however, you can deconstruct the units and move them closer to the front lines, where they can provide an excellent backbone to a mobile front. Another nice feature is that you can construct the buildings and weapons at any clear spot on the map — they don’t have to be within a certain distance of a power plant (or similar structure) in order to function — a feature that has always annoyed the hell out of me.

The thing that Ripcord is hoping will set Armor Command apart from the rest of the pack is its 3D view. While it does have a satellite view that gives you the familiar top-down perspective, you can enter 3D mode and view the action first hand. While this view is a nice change of pace (and helps give you a much better view of the action) the 3D graphics are a bit substandard even when using a 3D accelerator, and pretty crummy in software mode. The vehicles are modeled nicely, but things aren’t just as crisp and clear as Battlezone has demonstrated they can be.

Another problem is that interface. A menu runs along the bottom which divides your units into offensive, defensive, etc. While this does provide easy access to your units, it gets a bit overwhelming when you have a lot of units and the enemy is doing its best to kick your butt. When you toggle through the units in 3D mode, you automatically switch to that unit — when using satellite view, you do not. When you’re trying to attack or defend, it’s too big of a pain to have to track all your units down, and those precious seconds can cost you big.

On the plus side, Armor Command is strong on multi-player, offering a variety of set-up choices and some nicely designed maps. Unfortunately, the game will probably get passed over by many gamers simply because they’ll compare it to Battlezone and move on, not realizing that the games are very different. Nice game, bad timing, Ripcord.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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