Mayday looks and plays very much like a hybrid of Command & Conquer and Total Annihilation. The units are soulless machines such as robots, tanks, and helicopters, while the overall visual style is circa 1997. The low-key animations are distracting. Maps have elevation and it does affect the units and their abilities, but the isometric perspective can be confusing. It’s difficult to determine which portions of terrain are elevated and by how much and finding your way through a rolling landscape can be an exercise in frustration.
The game strings together missions in a unit research and espionage console. This allows you to spend money on new unit designs and peruse useless information from “informants.” Later you’ll realize that you’ve lost some missions before they began because you failed to research a crucial unit required to win them.
Gameplay is bog standard real-time strategy from the mid-1990s. During the campaign, you’re asked to destroy hundreds of units to your paltry few. Sometimes you are besieged right at the start of the mission, with almost no time to act. Worse, the game uses a strange and clunky resource model in which you start with a fixed number of credits to spend. You accrue additional credits automatically at the rate of two per second; once you spend your initial allotment, the only way to get more is to conquer opposing buildings or sit around and wait.
You can steal facilities by walking any infantry unit right into the building. You don’t need to inflict any damageâ€”just point, click, and bang! It’s yours, along with a reward. This contrivance is especially irritating during one mission in which you must defend a base. If you let just one enemy unit mosey through your defenses and enter a crucial building, it’s time to restart. Worse, if you run out of infantry yourself and need to capture a building, you’re out of luck unless you can build more.
The game has one “saving” graceâ€”you can save at any time. That helps to minimize your frustration, at least until your realize the game doesn’t reset any of the destroyed buildings that are crucial to mission completion if you reload after destroying one of them. There are many other reasons to avoid Mayday. Drag-selecting units is unreliable, and often you’ll leave units untouched. Pathfinding is a mess. Mission goals are unclear and the game lacks many interface conventions common in higher quality RTS games.
System Requirements: Pentium IV 1.5 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB Video, Win95
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