Z gets an A for originality, but little else.
The strategy element in Z (Zed) is a subset of the Command & Conquer mold. Yes, you control a force of little robots and vehicles, and yes, you do have to worry about producing them, but gone are building construction and resource collection. Instead the gameplay is centered on conquering territory from the opposing team, with each map divided into small sectors that changes color once you gain control of it.
Each sector may have one or more pre-existing buildings (and even empty vehicles, gun emplacements, or stocks of grenades), waiting for one side or the other to claim them. To claim a sector, you only have to grab the flag in that sector and all the buildings (and anything they are currently producing) will be yours. To win a mission, you have to either destroy all the enemy units, destroy the opponent’s central fort, or capture the flag in his home sector by storming the fort..
Overall, the AI isn’t extremely aggressive, especially early in the game, when it’s critical to grab unclaimed sectors to build up your production (the more sectors you have, the faster your production); if you get, say, two-thirds of the sectors early on you’re almost assured a victory against the computer. This even seems to be the case against a human player; the climax of a game session arrives quite fast, and once you’ve reached that point, it’s only a matter of mopping things up.
Overall the concept is interesting and the short-term gameplay is fun, but a lack of extended play dents the game’s long-term prospects.
System Requirements: Pentium 90, 16 MB RAM, DOS
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