by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
A dying genre?
Real time strategies have become the old dinosaurs of PC gaming. And Tryst is an example of why the genre has become stagnant, stuck in the bog, trying to pull their way out only to become further entrenched. In itself, Tryst isn’t all that bad. It does most things reasonably well, but it just serves up the same old things that other real time strategies have delivered for nearly two decades. Yes, that means that fans of the genre will know how to play the game from the outset, as the tried and true real time strategy formula is rinsed and repeated again in this effort from BlueGiant Interactive. The only real difference between this and the myriad of other real time strategies on the market is the setting and the story, and even then, the story follows a similar trend.
Alien versus predator
In 2900AD, humans have colonised a planet known as Ishtonia IV. They have located an alien race who after some initial peacefulness decides that humans are their prey. The main difference from other titles is that the humans aren’t the stereotypical American gung-ho badasses, but rather are Russian bad boys. It is then up to you (in the campaign mode) to help the humans restore balance to the galaxy.
OK, so the story is vaguely familiar to a host of other real time strategies available. But if the game plays well, it shouldn’t really be an issue should it? Tryst actually plays reasonably well. The various units perform their functions as expected, they move around in a sufficient way, the enemy is quite competent and the controls would be familiar to anyone who has played any real time strategies before. Luckily, because if you jump straight into the campaign, you are given no indication of how the controls work.
Units move about with the standard point-at-the-spot-and-the-units-will-move-there controls. For the most part, they went where I wanted them to go without too many hassles. As with most real time strategies, each unit seems to perform better against certain opposition units, whilst being quite vulnerable to others. Selecting units is quite intuitive, dragging a square around the required units. Again, with most games in the genre, units can be grouped together depending on your playing strategy. All the unit details are also clearly displayed on the screen.
The campaign is quite a lengthy one, but whether it can hold your attention for the time needed to complete it is another story altogether. I did like the option to choose from various mission quests, allowing you to select one of two primary objectives. Selecting one direction allows for completion of only a portion of the mission goals, giving you the option of multiple playthroughs of the game in an attempt to complete all goals.
Visually, Tryst has that same old look to it. A barren landscape loaded with futuristic buildings. Really, it could have come straight from Dune 2. Of course, the graphics are much improved on that classic title, but not really that much better than Red Alert 2. Indeed, Red Alert 2 probably had a much nicer display, even though that of Tryst does an acceptable job. All required details are available on screen. The landscapes often look quite dull and dreary, but this is compensated with some nice flashes of colour when the action comes alive. The explosions and laser weaponry definitely give the game a brighter feel.
I felt the human units are also on the small side, making it difficult to distinguish one unit type from another without clicking on them to find out which units they are. Forming them into groups certainly makes it easier, too. The alien units are thankfully much easier to distinguish.
Although the visuals are on the mediocre side, the audio fares a little better. The voice over work, complete with stereotypical Russian accented English characters and the incomprehensible alien language is quite humorous. I’m not sure if that is by design though, but I’ll give the developers the benefit of any doubt. Unfortunately, the humour wears off fairly quickly due to the repetitious lines that the units throw out. After just a short while, the same old lines begin to really grate, to the point where I was almost willing to send them to their certain death, just so they would shut up. It’s not all bad though in the sound department. The background music does a fine job of setting the tone of the game with dramatic scores playing throughout the campaign.
Tryst is a decent game, don’t get me wrong. I certainly had a bit of fun playing it. It’s just too similar to other games to give it a lasting appeal. Even the multiplayer game may struggle due to lack of online competitors (although this could have been a time zone issue for me). Everything else about it screams familiarity – the controls, the setting, even the story. And therein lies the problem, not just with Tryst, but the genre in general. If you’re a fan of real time strategies, you’ve probably already played an almost identical product before.
The game will feel familiar to real time strategy gamers
Repetitious voice acting can get monotonous