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Parkan: Iron Strategy

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  Reviewed by Torrick Ward
January 14, 2002
Real-Time Strategy
Monte Cristo
Nikita Interactive
Parkan: Iron Strategy provides a new take on the real-time strategy genre. In Parkan: Iron Strategy, instead of commanding your units from on high, like a god, you get down and dirty and do some of the fighting yourself. It is a great concept, but unfortunately the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

Your character is a lone soldier stranded on a hostile world, filled with enemies to slay and robotic soldiers (called warbots) to lead and convert to your side. The story is trite, detailing a lone captain's struggle to defeat the rebel evil corporate forces. Usually one cliché in an enemy is enough, but not for this game. There is no depth to your character and the game does not expound on his predicament. Being stranded as the last survivor to a defeated military force is an invitation to melodrama, but Parkan: Iron Strategy unwisely ignores it.

Parkan: Iron Strategy's graphics are only average. Good points include a respectable draw distance and decent models for the fighting units. Additionally, your character's model is the best in the game. (The game defaults to first-person mode, but can be played in third-person mode.)

From a distance, everything looks fine. When you get up close, however, you see that the game is plagued with repetitive and ugly textures. Parkan: Iron Strategy requires you to close in on objects quite a bit, which illuminates this flaw.

The sound effects were good, but they were marred by voice acting so poor that I wonder if it was intentional. The music was mostly nonexistent. One thing caught my attention: When loading or waiting for commands, the game plays soft music that belongs better in an elevator. Weird.

Gameplay could have been this game’s saving grace. The concept -- leading your charges from the battlefield -- is so cool. How this plays out is not. To fight enemy forces, your character can fight them directly using his heavily armed power suit, but he must also enlist the aid of the warbots. Warbots, as the name implies, are robotic weapons platforms with multiple abilities that are essential for the completion of your missions. Your character must either find neutral warbots around the battlefield to reprogram, or capture a factory and create them himself. In the easier levels, you can usually make do with what you find and your own battle prowess. However, it is safer and fairly easy to capture the buildings necessary to build your own. In later levels it becomes a necessity, as you need to create warbots with specific abilities in order to complete the mission.

Your warbots and the enemies have reasonable AI, and your character can take more direct control from within a building. On the battlefield, however, you have only a few commands that leave much of the warbots actions out of your hands. This leads the player to something of a dilemma. It's more fun to be out on the battlefield blasting away with the warbots, but doing that lessens the strategic aspect. On the other hand, leading from a building enhances your strategic options, but eliminates the action. It's frustrating and takes away some of the fun.

When Parkan: Iron Strategy releases in early 2002, multi-player options will be possible through Gamespy. As of the date of this review, the multi-player game was inaccessible. Parkan: Iron Strategy could have been so much more. As it stands, it is a competent but not very fun game.

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Minimum Requirements...
Pentium II 266 MHz; 64 MB RAM; Direct3D-compatible video card; quad-speed CD-ROM.


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