Heavy Duty

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Heavy Duty


Duking it out with the Sectoids

It’s been a while

First announced in 2005, Heavy Duty is one of the many titles being published by Russian publisher Akella. Things have become rather quiet around the game. Perhaps they are a little too eager to keep it under wraps? We are certain that there are gamers still interested in this game and felt it would be a shame if it would fall off the radar. Time for a preview.

The Human race has spread its wings throughout the galaxy. Colonizing planets left and right, Earth’s government finds itself overstretched in its attempts to protect its outer holdings. Private organizations are entrusted with the protection of the colonies, allowing mankind to spread ever further. All is well, until one day an alien race known only as the Sectoid Civilization appears on the fringes of Human territory. It is soon obvious that the Sectoids are unwilling to engage in diplomatic relationships. Human border colonies are under threat from attack. Should they fall, the inner colonies will undoubtedly be next. A special military unit called Heavy Duty is tasked to deal with the alien threat, and it is this unit that you will control.

Heavy Duty offers an enticing mix of genres. It has its roots in Real-Time Strategy but adds Squad Based Tactics and more action than you can shake a stick at. Like most strategy games, the player starts out with a small base that needs to be developed. This is done by gathering and managing resources, researching new technologies and building new weaponry that aid you in eliminating the alien threat.

Under the weather

The world of Heavy Duty is alive, with day and night cycles and even incorporates a weather system. The latter plays a considerable role in your efforts to overthrow the local alien presence. Huge cyclones rip across the world, tearing up the terrain, units and even buildings. A cyclone doesn’t concern itself with petty things such as sides in a conflict and its path of destruction can be both a blessing and a curse depending on who it hits. Smaller units are also affected by rain, causing them to rust and eventually fall apart. Larger units are much better able to deal with the rain and don’t suffer the same penalties. But no matter how big your unit is, it will have reduced sight during night cycles. It is important to use this to your advantage. Under cover of darkness, sneaking up on your foes is much easier, unless of course the enemy base has a well developed radar system. A large proportion of the game world can be destroyed; this goes for buildings as well as terrain. This is a definite perk in a game where huge mechanized robots with giant missiles and rockets are more common than the buildings and trees you are destroying them with.

Air power is important in Heavy Duty and not just for intercepting enemy fighters and bombers that are set to destroy your base. The quickest way to transport your ground troops is by air. Unprotected transport ships are likely to fail in reaching their destination unless they are being escorted. Once landed, your ground forces engage the enemy using your own tactics or by activating ‘auto battle’ in which case the game AI will handle the fight for you. If you opt to control the battle manually, the game switches to an overhead 3D view from which you can zoom in to any unit for an ‘over the shoulder’ view.

These days, most developers use motion capture technology to animate in-game characters. Even objects are sometimes animated this way, but obviously it would be quite hard to use this technology for animating robots, simply because we do not have robots -which form the majority of your units- that are that sophisticated yet. Because of this, developer Quant Games believes that motion capture would be a rather poor choice for robots and sought something that would make them look more realistic. They developed a proprietary system called ‘Reverse Kinematics’ that uses a complex real time algorithm which generates movement for the robots and is able to calculate all sorts of variables like and objects surface, current direction and speed of motion as well as the power of impact.

On to something?

The game will be mission based. Besides the usual ‘expand, explore, exterminate’ tasks that come with each mission, some come with special objectives such as intercepting enemy aircraft, fighting alien ground troops or destroying enemy bases. Other objectives have not been disclosed at this point, but we do know that some missions will involve objectives that help further the overall storyline. There is enough diversity in both gameplay and unit types in the game to have lasting appeal to strategists looking to conquer the universe. No official release date has been set but we are hoping for a release sometime early this year since the original Q4 2008 release date was not met.