MissionForce: Cyberstorm takes place in Sierra’s EarthSiege universe, but the game is actually a strategy title as opposed to a 3D action sim that so far made use of this game world. Sierra has given us nice hex-based maps, a squadron of hercs, and a premise which works well to meld the resource management aspects of the game with strategic combat. You play the part of a hired soldier, and must continually turn a profit or be ousted by the company you’re working for.
Your mission is to chase Cybrids out of three star systems while mining enough ore to stay solvent. You start with a small force and a selection of missions to choose from. Success earns bucks, which you’ll spend on newer, better hercs or pilots (called bioderms). These bioderms are created in tanks just for the purpose of piloting hercs; each is rated according to pilot and weapon skills (which increase with experience).
This is the perfect game for hercs (which essentially re-licensed ‘mechs’). You spend as much time tinkering with your machines as you fight. There are a wide range of energy and ballistic weapons. Getting the perfect balance is part of the fun: energy-based weapons rip down shields, but practically bounce off armor. They use energy, which must also be used for movement and shields. Cannons and missiles can barely penetrate shields, but they use no energy to fire (although ammo supplies are limited). Lest you get stuck in a rut, some of the planets have atmospheres which prevent the use of certain types of weapons, forcing you to reconfigure your hercs.
In battle, the game is turn-based (for multiplayer action, you can place a time limit on each move). You can rotate the map or zoom it in and out. There is a Fog of War present. You won’t know the terrain you’re up against until you scout around to clear the fog of war. Units have facing, and shield strength can be distributed unevenly to protect specific sides. The interface is smooth and shot2 intuitive. The graphics are wonderful, with shields crackling with energy when hit, destroyed hercs crumbling to the ground and burning, and beams of energy crisscrossing the sky.
Gameplay will feel familiar to strategy gamers. You run your hercs around the maps, ducking into gullys and leaping up onto hills. Concentrate your fire on Cybrid hercs and watch ’em drop. The Cybrids have a numerical advantage, which is as it should be when you’re the good guys fighting against pulp sci-fi evil. MissionForce: Cyberstorm is a ton of fun to play, but it isn’t very deep – a con for more hardcore strategy gamers, but a nice touch for those who like their turn-based strategy games to be somewhat lightweight.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 8 MB RAM, Win95
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