by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Singing in the Rain
When Elements of War arrived on my desk recently, boasting about features that involved controlling the weather in a bid to control the world, my interest immediately amplified in this budget priced Real Time Strategy game. The last RTS that I had played that involved using weather as a weapon was Populous way back in the early days of my gaming life. I fondly remember building up my forces on top of a huge peak and waiting until I had enough Mana to conjure up the flood spell, effectively wreaking havoc on the enemy forces and any of my own subjects that happened to be loitering in the low lying areas.
Elements of War however is set in the near future, a future that has been devastated by the powerful forces of nature. The cause of the terrible phenomena is not immediately known, but it seems as though human interaction has played some part. It later becomes clear that research into weather-based technology is the main cause and it is up to you as the remnants of the US Army to find out what has occurred and to secure the weather based weapons so that they do not fall into evil hands.
The opening cinematic and in-game cutscenes do an admirable job of the telling the story. And the visuals and audio in these cutscenes are of a decent quality. Unfortunately, the visual quality and the capable voice acting is let down by lip-synching issues. I will excuse this due to the fact that the developer is Russian and may have had the lip-synching worked out for the Russian version of the game. But there are other problems. At times, the spoken dialogue doesn’t match the sub-titled dialogue and even on one occasion, the voice-overs were blocked-out altogether with the sound of the background sound effects.
The in-game visuals and audio doesn’t fare much better though and would not look out of place on last-gen consoles. Although the foliage, buildings and vehicles are quite detailed, this is somewhat let down by the bland landscapes where grass looks as manicured as a golf course fairway and barren hills look as smooth as sand dunes. The weather effects do look rather cool though. Sound effects are pretty standard for an RTS with the usual weapon firing sounds as well as some out-of-place accents of troops.
The gameplay itself starts off with a simple tutorial that teaches the finer points of moving around the map and changing the camera angles. All pretty standard stuff. There’s nothing there that even a novice RTS gamer wouldn’t work out in ten seconds anyway. After some quick information about how to select and order units, you’re put in command of a small army that needs to quickly disperse some rebels that have taken to looting the local town. It is here that your mission begins.
Riders on the Storm
And it is here that some of gameplay issues start to take shape. Guiding your units to their location can become a frustrating experience. The unit path-finding leaves much to be desired. Units will often take the long way around to their destination and will often drive right over trees or power poles to reach their target location, rather than doing the sensible thing and driving around obstacles.
Some nice new features with the weather controlling vehicles
Looks and plays like something out the Red Alert era