NetStorm: Islands at War

12_1Not your ordinary RTS experience.

NetStorm from US-based developer Titanic is an oddball strategy game. It’s an RTS on your most basic level, with resource gathering, building construction, a tech tree and all of that, but it’s core mechanics are so eccentric that you have to thank the designers for including some interactive tutorials. And on a greater scale you could thank them for the game itself, which offers some innovative if at first bewildering amusement.

NetStorm takes place on the planet of Nimbus, where huge chunks of land now hang in the sky like floating islands, held together by the power of magic. On these islands, populations of humans, each dedicated to a different element, battle with each other to capture and sacrifice rival High Priests in order to gain further knowledge (which translates into new units).

Players expand by connecting randomly shaped bridge parts onto their islands, offering possibly one of the game’s major highlights. You not only gather resources by building bridges, but also cross into enemy islands. The bridges also allow you to kidnap the enemy high priests and bring him back for sacrifice. There’s also some odd satisfaction in chaining a rival priest to an altar and hearing the poor guy squirm as you sacrifice him to the elements. But that could just be me.

Another big difference between NetStorm and other real-time strategy games, though, is the nature of the offensive units. Your attack units, things like Wind crossbows, attack balloons, and Ice Towers, never move. Rather, they all continue to fire and operate independently from the moment you place them, so it’s less about swarming an enemy base with units than it is building your way unto his turf.

10_1It’s not that all that great though The AI could be deemed remarkable, if in fact there were any to speak of. Under the fickle guise of nurturing diverse tactics, your scant selection of mobile units cheerfully march right into enemy fire. Your stationary combatants attack the closest available target, whether it’s impervious to their damage or not. But overall there’s some merit to this game if you’re desperate to find something weird and screwy. It’s not a perfect game, or really very addictive in the long run, but kudos should be given to Activision for thinking outside the box.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB, 12 MB HDD, 30 MB HDD, Win95

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