Massive Assault, a futuristic, squad-level turn-based strategy game, kicks off with a nice intro movie and a long synopsis of all the political events that lead to a catastrophic war. The Phantom League, a cabal of secret military forces who aims at global domination, is at war with the Free Nations Union. Both forces hold massive resources spanning several alien planets, and both are planning to emerge victorious despite the staggering costs.
Massive Assault is a turn-based action game, so you need not worry about base building. Through various rounds, you will purchase and move your units strategically around the map. The map is divided up into countries, and capturing a country gains you more revenue and terrain control. At the start of the game, you will have several randomly chosen countries ‘on your side’, however you need only disclose two of these to begin play. You may strategically leave ‘secret allies’ for future surprise attacks, at the cost of a delayed military buildup.
Units themselves are very easy to understand. Each one has a number of points of damage that they can take and deal, as well as a movement allowance and targeting range. Most combat will happen on land, however naval combat is key on some maps. There are also air force bombers, which are great for making attacks across mountains.
The core concept is solid, but that doesn’t make the game great yet. One of Massive Assault’s most noticeable features is the level of detail with which everything is drawn. The various planets look great. Oceans ripple and reflect sunlight and naval vessels, the terrain is detailed and varied — and can be viewed from almost any conceivable angle — and units themselves are well animated, especially when they give and take damage. Even so, the minimum requirements are not excessive, and being turn based, a little slowdown is not unacceptable.
As mentioned, there are various single player scenario modes, and it is from here that you will learn how to use your simple units in complex ways. There is technically both a tutorial and a scenario mode, although the basic format is exactly the same. You are given some starting resources, and the task of attacking or defending various countries. These scenario modes become increasingly hard and lengthy, yet the learning curve is pretty much spot on. Some of the lengthier scenarios can be quite difficult, but with the short campaigns you’ll have plenty of opportunity to try different tactics.
With a great deal of units, missions, tactics and a solid 3D engine, Massive Assault has all of the elements of a successful mainstream wargame mixed with the visual flair of an action-strategy game. What’s even more impressive is that seems to please both crowds.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98