Date: 06-23-2011 17:01
Author: Mason King

PDC profile: Mason

Real-time strategy (RTS) games have been engaging and fun on the PC in the past, but have always had a hard time following similar success on consoles. Under Siege attempts to break that trend and show that RTS games on a console can work.

Under Siege
Under Siege is based in a medieval fantasy era where the soldiers are fighting with swords and bows, but soon changes (too my surprise) when a robot enters a cut-scene, and units such as gunners are unlocked. The story to Under Siege does the job without too many thrills, and is rather lengthy. The game spans over 5 different themes, taking the soldiers over mountains, swamps and more. The story is rather basic and is mostly drove along through text and pictures, rather than video cut-scenes, which was disappointing.

Anyone who has used a PlayStation Move will know that it gives the player more accuracy and faster response times, which are crucial factors to succeed in an RTS games. Under Siege is no different, and gives the PS Move the job of directing a cursor, making it easier to point and direct units with the same accuracy as a mouse. Actions such as making quick decisions and strategic moves can be performed simply by pointing at a unit, and telling them to move somewhere by pointing at their destination, eliminating the need for trawling around the map with analog sticks. DualShock 3s are still supported and works fine, but using the PS Move makes Under Siege faster and more enjoyable. Selecting large amounts of units is simple too, with the addition of bookmarking. Bookmarking creates an option to select multiple units of your choice, and assignís them to a directional button. For example, I could select all my archers and assign them to the up button, and then during battle I can regain control over them again by tapping up. This made selecting units fast, and is key to succeeding during battles.

With the quick and easy controls,†itís a shame after their best efforts that I didnít feel too engaged in the game. This is mainly because it didnít actually feel like I was playing an RTS game. Instead of looking over a large battlefield and commanding lots of units around, Under Siege uses a close-up camera which is always focused on the action. This makes the game feel like itís being played on auto pilot, as I follow along-side my units and tap a button to fight as I approach an enemy. This takes some of the tactics out of the game as a result. Another one of my gripes with the game is the difficulty being through the roof. The game keeps it simple for the first couple of missions, but as soon as I progressed further, the difficulty ramped up from the fact that dead units need to be bought back, and money is hard to gather in the game. Scraping by and finishing a level with only a couple of soldiers left in early missions can cause problems later once money gets tight. I found myself constantly trying out new unit formations and tactics, then realizing that itís just not possible with the amount of money I had, forcing me to restart the whole level, losing out on a lot of progress. This whole difficulty fiasco led me to get bored of the story early on, and really is unforgiving for the casual strategy fans. If you are new to the genre, you might want to stay clear of this game.

Then There's More...
However itís not all doom Ďní gloom, because what did please me about Under Siege is the amount of content packed into the reasonably cheap game. For starters, the game features a platinum trophy, even though there is only 15 other trophies to unlock to achieve it. Then thereís the addition of small but pleasant features that are always welcome, such as: Video recording option that can be activated directly from the pause menu and the addition of custom soundtracks which can cover up the games un-exciting soundtrack. If moving pictures are not enough, thereís also an option to take still screenshots from the XMB. It also comes complete with an additional Ďcustomí mode which offers battles against bots on a range of maps, multi-player modes, allowing 2 player battles through online play and voice chat, and also through split screen, which was a pleasant surprise. The online system is quite robust with a lot of features that help make a good online game such as extensive stat tracking, unlock-able titles, and a lobby system which works well with pairing you to your friends and other people around the world. If you are like me and that you find the story too difficult, the bots and online are a welcome addition to ease the difficulty and consequently make the game enjoyable once more.

Making Levels

However the biggest feature of Under Siege, for me anyway, was the games level editor. This is the exact same system the developers used to create the missions featured in the story mode. As a big fan of games that allow players to create their own content, I was excited to see what I could do with it. When I first loaded it up I was disappointed to see the lack of PS Move support in the editor (itís there but only half-works), so I put it down and picked up a DualShock instead. The creation system is simple at first, choosing between different themes and map sizes, and once I started the creating side, things got more complicated. The editor is packed with features and lots of options allowing you to create virtually anything you could want in the game. Setting A.I. paths, spawn points, cut-scenes, text, terrain options, it has it all. While this means there is a lot of potential, it doesn't have the same Ďpick up and createí approach seen in games like ModNation Racers. Beginners could create something simple like I did, and for the people that do take their time with the editor, it could lead to some brilliant maps being available for the community. Which leads to a problem; the only current way to share maps is through lobbies with another player. However, a level browser will be patched in at a later date, which could supply you with an endless amount of maps instantly, and will be very welcome.

One other thing I noticed in Under Seige was a lot of graphical problems and game slowdown. Screen tearing was a regular occurrence during the game, making the game look terrible at some stages, which is caused even by just moving the camera about with no heavy action. The game also seemed to drop in frame rate and slow down when units started to fight, and happened almost every time which was rather disappointing. Despite that, the game does look charming when it doesnít suffer from these problems, with beautiful landscapes and detailed scenery. Characters are fairly detailed and easily distinguishable, so itís easy to spot one unit type from another in quick situations. As mentioned earlier the sound-track wonít win any awards, but it does fit in with the game, and can be replaced with your own.

I have been anticipating this game for almost 2 years, and my excitement grew when I heard about the PS Move support. After finally getting the chance to play this, I †was left disappointed, because of its unforgiving difficulty and graphical problems. However, I found a really fun game in the multi-player and skirmish modes, where the units are not as restricted, and therefore it was easier to play. If you are looking for an advanced level RTS game, I can easily recommend Under Siege to you. I would have preferred the game to have a difficulty setting to account for those such as myself, who would rather entry level difficulty.

Under Siege is developed by Seed Studios and is out now digitally on the PlayStation Store. I played the game for over 7 hours, playing with the PS Move for the majority of time.

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