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[poll] Airmech (PC, MMO Action RTS)

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Airmech Review
by Raven800


"Airmech", a simple name for an interesting strategy game. Developed by Carbon Games, Airmech is a free to play, mass multiplayer "action strategy" game that seemed to be directly inspired by the old Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game "Herzog Zwei" and proves to be a perfect remake with a few added details. Old school gamers might already know what I'm talking about, but for those who don't know, a little history lesson:

Herzog Zwei was a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis game released in the 1990's. With a name roughly translating to "Duke Two" (Though I've heard some people call it "Two Dunes" or "Two Dukes") this game was the sequel to "Herzog", another proto-strategy game released in 1989 in Japan. It was one of many RTS themed games in its time and often considered the first "true" real-time strategy game for its interesting mechanic that would keep players involved. In these games, more so for Herzog Zwei, players controlled a giant mech with the ability to transform into a fighter jet for faster travel. Each player started with a base, and from their base's they can build units to help dominate the playing field. Each map had a number of different outposts that players could capture to help move up front lines and increase economic income to build more units. The ultimate goal was to destroy the other player's base while making sure to keep yours protected, and the game didn't end until someone's anthill was kicked over.

Unlike most strategy games today, Herzog Zwei had players micro manage their units when giving commands, having players give orders to individual units rather than large groups. In Jet mode players could carry units and program them with orders that they would automatically follow once deployed. Jet mode only allowed players to attack other players in jet mode and couldn't attack ground units. In mech mode, players could not attack other players in Jet mode but were able to attack ground units in an effort to help their own units gain more ground. It was an interesting and very difficult to master strategy game that I personally loved, and seemed to be an underrated gem.

Airmech brings back this concept in strategic gaming, adding a few new twists in gameplay that's sure to make old school fans of the original Herzog Zwei love it even more. Just like in the original, players are in control of an "Airmech" and are capable of transforming to access both ground and air. Mechs now come in a variety of different classes and are capable of carrying multiple units at once (depending on how much an individual unit weighs), each sporting their own special abilities that players can unlock during gameplay to better their odds against their opponents. Mechs range from traditional "Striker" jets to Helicopters with increased carrying capacity and even Bombers that are capable of carrying and dropping bombs on enemies. In addition to their aerial abilities, each mech has a number of different special abilities for Mech mode as well with Striker Mechs now having an upgradeable ability that allows them to use a powerful sword and shield combo that can cut most enemies down to size and Bomber Mechs sacrificing guns for melee in mech mode, making them ideal for quick strikes against cluttered enemy ground units, just to name a few.

In addition to varying mech classes, players can also unlock different pilots and equiptable items that enable buffs that can either improve their mech performance, military strength or xp and money income for the rest of the team. There is a bit of grinding to be had when it comes to unlocking better units, pilots, mechs, and deployable assets, but unlike most mmo games out there that require you to grind for money so that you can "rent" unlockable items, This game has you grind to "keep" your unlocked items, so the work definitely pays off here in the end. Every so often the game will throw players a bone and follow the "League of Legends" method of offering free trials for some items and pilots so that some of the lower ranked players can at least have a leg up against the AI and more higher ranked player, so it's good to check in every now and again to see what items, pilots and units are available from time to time.

A few changes have been made to the gameplay to add a bit of balance and challenge. There's an economic system that's worth mentioning called "upkeep". Think of this as your unit cap that works much like in Starcraft with a small twist. Each team has a percentage of upkeep that affects production of the entire team, and production is the only resource that's shared amongst the team. Upkeep is used to refill your production bar and as you deploy units on the field they'll take off a percentage of upkeep penalizing the recharge rate of your production bar. When your persistent percentage increase in upkeep reaches 0%, the production bar will stop recharging, preventing you from building additional units. If there are too many units deployed on the field, upkeep will go into the negative percentages, causing you to slowly bleed production until you recycle units or send them off to be destroyed in battle. The game is divided into quarters with two overtime rounds and upkeep will increase each quarter so that gameplay can progress, but players can increase upkeep by capturing power stations or deploying power generators.

Other changes were the outposts that are scattered about the maps and their functionalities. Now outposts not only give you increased income when captured, but others like factories and power stations can increase the productivity of building units, and provide additional power and upkeep for your army, turning them into key "take and hold" objectives that could make or break your team's military effectiveness. This helps add to the intensity of combat as players try to capture and hold key outposts that could help lead them to victory.

This game seems to combine a lot of elements from a lot of different games. It's obviously a beautifully made remake of Herzog Zwei with a few strategic elements borrowed from Starcraft and other tactical games like Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 2 and Company of Heroes while combining gameplay elements similar to League of Legends. It truly is an Impressive, fast paced tactical game, one that I recommend to anyone interested in trying it. To those who aren't interested in trying it, all I can say is try it at least once. It's free and you've got nothing to lose but a few minutes of your time. Airmech can be downloaded for free at Airmech.com and is currently available on Steam and includes both PvP and Coop vs. AI game modes for both competitive and casual players alike. Be sure to take a look and tell 'em Raven800 sent ya.


Herzog wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herzog_(video_game)
Herzog Zwei wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herzog_Zwei
Airmech wikia page http://airmech.wikia.com/wiki/AirMech_Wiki
CarbonGames main website http://carbongames.com/index.html
Steam http://store.steampowered.com/app/206500/
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