Friday, November 16, 2012

Demo Friday: No Moving Allowed

Another record for Demo Friday: I downloaded, played, and was then finished with the lone XBLA release in under fifteen minutes.

No, that's not the death star. Though with the recent acquisition by Disney, it could be.

Planets Under Attack is so far outside my usual fair that I almost didn't play it all. It's a strategy game, which I don't play because I am not very bright. It is also real time, which I don't play because what little brains I have refuse to work more than one thing at a time. If I cannot throw reaction time at a problem to make it go away I quickly get frustrated.

The previous paragraph is only a slight exaggeration. For further proof review my experience with King's Bounty: Armored Princess.

So it is a real time strategy game masquerading as some kind of inter-stellar business simulator. Take away all of the stiff upper lip British humor (wot wot) and you send ships from one planet to another to take them over. Once you have all the planets you win. There is more to it, or course: you can upgrade planets, there are giant space guns to occupy and turn on you opponents, you have to earn money by taxing the planets you conquer, there are bonuses or 'techs' that you can equip upon gaining experience. The trappings get complicated quickly but the core of it, sending ships from one planet to another, stays the same. It is actually easy to accomplish but flawed in a way that I found annoying and I didn't even make it through the tutorial.

Step 1: choose the planet you want to attack.

Step 2: choose how many ships you want to send

Step 3: ?

Step 4: Profit!

The problem is that you cannot designate which planet your dispatched ships come from and what portion each planet will send. It is possible to exempt a planet from sending any ships at all but this does not fix the problem. Ships leave each planet at the same time but arrive at the target in waves because they all travel at the same speed. I wanted to consolidate my forces on one planet and then send them all at once. A Zerg rush, to coin an apt phrase. I could not because there was no way (that I could find) to move ships from one of my planets to another. The majority of my forces were stuck on my home planet, far from the areas of conflict.

I don't even have a passing familiarity with real time strategy games and this annoyed the shit out of me because I could not do what I wanted to do and there was no reason or explanation for it. Unlike King's Bounty: Armored Princess, which I stopped played because the tutorial itself defeated me, Planets Under Attack was shut off because I was bored and frustrated. I will say that it actually made me want to give the new X-Com game a try. Briefly. Then I came to my senses and remembered that I have enough stress in my life.

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