An innovative cross between SimCity and Master of Orion that was never successful in stores, Deadlock is a strategic-level turn-based game that tries to marry the "4X" genre with the micromanagement aspects of SimCity. The result is a fun, albeit uneven "beer-and-pretzel" galactic war game that can be finished in a few hours. |
The premise of Deadlock is that nearly all of the free space in the galaxy has been developed. There isn't any room for the various civilizations to grow. Then a new star system is discovered, and you and six other races are thrown into a mad race to be the first to develop the newly discovered planets and claim them for your own. There are two ways to win a planet -- either destroy all of your opponents or build up five cities of your own.
Fans of classic Civilization 2 will immediately recognize the similarities between the two games, although the scale of Deadlock is much smaller and micromanagement plays a much more important role. One of Deadlock's most egregious weak spots that prevents it from being a classic is that the game is practically impossible to win if you fall far behind in the technology race. Unlike Civilization where it's really never too late to change tactics (you can try diplomacy or sabotage if you're technologically behind in Civilization, for instance), you might as well start over in Deadlock.
Fortunately, the pros of the game more than outweigh the cons -- there are many units and neat buildings build, and each race has its own strength and weakness that do affect your strategy (similar to Master of Orion). An average game is also fairly short -- to conquer a planet when playing against several enemies will take you a couple of hours (most of which will be in managing your economy and not in battle). The enemy AI seems to be adequate, but playing head to head over a network or over the Internet is your best bet for a challenge. The bottom line is that if you are a big fan of city-building games like SimCity, you will probably enjoy Deadlock, but if you are searching for a military-oriented strategy game, you will be disappointed. Given the game's shorter-than-average length (although replay value is high), it may not be worth the full price (and failure to market it as a "budget" title probably contributed to very poor sales). If you're looking for a fun futuristic city-builder game with a dash of strategy than can be finished in an evening, though, Deadlock more than fits the bill. It was quite addicting when I first played it, and I still boot it up now and then. Thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs