Enemy Nations is one of the best and most sophisticated real-time strategy games ever made. It's also a game you've probably never played, because its slated publisher went out of business shortly after the game's release, forcing developer Windward Studios to sell the game exclusively from its website. If you ever hoped you could have more resources and do research in Red Alert, or that you could control your soldiers more directly and have a simpler economy in Settlers, then Enemy Nations, as a game sitting squarely between the two, fits the bill. It's neither a simple action strategy game, nor is it a straightforward god game with token battle elements. Rather, it's an isometric strategy game which takes influences from half a dozen existing games and tries to blend them into something new, and in most aspects, succeeds admirably. |
At the start of the science fiction story, you land on planet Dacton IV with a rocket ship supplied with some vehicles and resources. What vehicles you get depends on the game entry level -- civilian, full civilian, military or full military -- the latter makes the game shorter as you have more resources to start with. For beginners, Enemy Nations features an excellent online tutorial which leads you through a full game, from the start to final conquest in a dozen or so steps. The excellent tutorial is backed up by a well-written 96-page manual which tells you most of what you need to know.
As in Settlers, you must collect several resources necessary for economic and military expansion. Lumberyard, farm, iron mine, coal mine, and smelter are needed to collect timber, coal, iron and steel. From there, your options begin to open up into more advanced buildings, e.g. a coal power plant, oil well, military camp, office building and research lab. Resources are spread at random over the map, and you'll rarely have all to hand at the landing site so you may need to go out on a limb (and defend it) for one of them. The beauty of the game is the way in which each structure offers its own use, the drawback is that to get a game going, you have to put up ten buildings before you're fully on track. This is in contrast to Red Alert, where things proceed far more directly. But this is more of a result of the game's emphasis on careful strategic-level planning than a weakness.
The graphics, although not a prerequisite for a good strategy game (as any old-timer can tell you), in this case deserve special mention because there are many nice graphical touches that make the game more immersive. You will see smoke rising from chimneys, tanks creak into action, building parts scattered on the ground by an explosion, and many more details that show how much a game is a labor of love for the designers. The enemy AI is excellent, and you will be surprised at how well the computer player adapts to your strategies and plans attacks of its own. The game is a near-perfect blend of world conquest and real-time strategy games. There's a bit of everything here, but all of it is very well balanced and integrated, never overwhelming the player. Truly a must-have for every strategy gamer, and a doubtless entry into our Hall of Belated Fame. Two thumbs up, way up!
Note: The company announced on its website that since they are no longer printing CDs, you can now freely give the game away to friends, etc. So, kudos to Windward for recognizing that the best way to deal with out-of-print games with little commercial value left is to make them available for free to the public. Play the game, and visit their site for news on the sequel :)
Note: as of 2002 you can now download the full CD-ROM version of the game from Windward's official site!
Reviewed by: Underdogs