Original War

Here’s a devious little strategy game from the Czech Republic. On the surface, Original War appears to be your typical isometric Command & Conquer clone – build, advance, destroy, repeat. Yet to underestimate Original War would be a misstep for fans of the genre.

5In the near future, Russian nationalism and U.S. rectitude have spawned a new Cold War over a freshly discovered power source found in the Siberian wasteland. Using an alien time portal stashed at Area 51 since World War II, the feds send America’s finest back to the Paleolithic period to take the Siberian super-mineral across the Bering Strait, into U.S. territory. It’s a one-way trip to alter history and ensure U.S. supremacy before (waaaay before) the Russians know what hit ’em. Unraveling the subsequent twists is half the game’s fun.

Thanks to an innovative stat system and non-linear mission objectives, you’ve got much more than a cool story. The game is a hybrid, character-based, squad-intensive RTS, with sort of a Commandos-meets–Red Alert vibe. Characters survive between missions and gain experience, which you distribute to skills of your choice (combat, scientific, engineering, or mechanical). Mechanics are better at controlling and fixing vehicles, medics can heal the wounded — and they’re all a resource. People are key.

You can pause the game at any time and issue commands. The graphics can run as high as 1024×768, and they help give Original War a cartoonish, G.I. Joe feeling. It’s a bargain priced game so we have to keep our expectations reasonable. But given that it isn’t a full-priced studio release, Original War still manages to be surprisingly fun.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 500 MB, WinXP

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