Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power Review
By Jeremy Vancleave |
Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power is based on a seemingly popular Russian science-fiction story written during the heyday of the Soviet sixties. We know this not because we've read the original story, but because the game's marketing materials and main title screen says so. The confusing part is how the interesting sci-fi premise behind the Prisoner of Power novel seems not to have had much impact on the story of the game.
Sure, there are some factions at war here and, sure, there are some futurey-type weapons but otherwise the game might as well have been called Generic Assault: Prisoner of Disinterest. Where strategy gamers are sometimes happy to jump into battle on the sole justification that there's someone to fight, we assume that a game based on a book would come with a bit more background and a stronger sense of motivation.
It's kind of a shame too, because with an appropriately dramatic context, the combats and missions might have drawn us in a bit more. There are tons of gameplay options here including a lengthy linear campaign that covers each of the game's factions, a host of single missions and a multiplayer mode.
Given that the game is set in the future on an alien planet, the units seem a bit generic. We're not expecting Tesla towers or tree-smashing robotic walkers here, but except for the Barbarian units, the troops here aren't any more creative than those you'd find in Advance Wars. Basic infantry, tanks, trucks, bombers, rocket artillery, submarines -- these are the best the future has to offer? On the other hand, the familiarity of the units gives players a head start when it comes to planning combined arms assaults. Leveraging our experiences with games like Panzer General, we strategy types already know which units to attack each other with.
Thankfully, there's plenty of tactical flexibility. Infantry can dig trenches or garrison buildings to receive defensive bonuses, engineers can extend the mobility of your vehicles by building pontoon bridges or airfields, and trucks can help slow-moving guns keep up with your advances. Making the most of each unit's strengths and using them in combination with the strengths of other units is where the game is most fun. We've had many tense moments here, from trying to keep our recon infantry from advancing too far ahead of our main force that we couldn't save them if the enemy suddenly appeared, to using fast moving vehicles to lure lone enemies into carefully prepared ambushes.
The modeling of a number of tactically significant factors adds to the excitement here. Your units move faster on roads but keeping them in the forests can help them stay hidden from nearby enemies. Some of your units are very fast, but large hills and river crossings can help your enemy predict where you're going to move. Units that find themselves in danger can even suffer from low morale, making them easy targets for any nearby enemies.