Monday, October 02, 2006


Let me say this up front: I'm not an RTS wonk.

I might qualify in the sports and builder genres, but not in real-time strategy games. I play them--quite a few of them--but I can't comment intelligently on the intricacies of unit strength and resource gathering and game balance. And if you are an RTS wonk, these impressions will not answer the questions you want answered.

I was hoping to have Paraworld impressions up today, but they're not ready. The reason they're not ready is because I'm playing the game almost like an RPG, where you spend huge amounts of time just exploring.

This has never happened to me before.

My objective in every RTS game I've played before now is to finish the mission and move on. That's what you do in RTS games--win.

Paraworld is so appealing visually, though, and filled with such an extravagant level of detail, that I spend hours on every mission because I want to see everything. I want to build every building, create every unit, upgrade my town center to the highest epoch allowed. The game world is so vibrant and so beautiful that I don't want to miss a single thing.

I didn't even think it was possible to make me a tourist in an RTS game world.

It's not just the beauty and detail of the world, though. The music is terrific as well. And the cut scenes have a likable element of high camp about them--it's a thoroughly B-movie world, which is what you'd expect in a world with dinosaurs and humans. It wouldn't really work any other way.

Wrapped around all these very appealing things is the interface, which is nothing short of wonderful. On the left of the screen is a rectangular area that displays all your units, their current level, and their health. It will also often give status information on what they're doing. I've never seen a more useful interface design--it's incredibly flexible and incredibly powerful.

After I spent a few hours with the game at E3 this year, I came home and tried to play Rise of Legends. ROL had a steampunk kind of vibe which was tremendously appealing, but I only played for a few hours and then stopped--after using the Army Controller in Paraworld, the ROL interface seemed incredibly dated and clunky in comparison.

So these are not the detailed impressions of Paraworld I was hoping to give you. Not yet. I just wanted to let you know that what I saw at E3 was no mirage, that the promise I saw in the game did not turn out to be empty promise. It's beautiful and well-designed and fun.

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