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Reviewed: Savage: The Battle for Newerth
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: October 9th, 2003
Page: 2
Savage is sort of two games in one: the first, which I will speak about briefly, is the RTS mode.

Basically, the RTS mode is the same as every other game. The goal? Destroy the enemy's main building, their Stronghold. That, and some vaguely symmetric map design, keep the pace of the game moving. In Commander (RTS) mode, you control an army of workers (the AI controlled units) as well as fighters controlled by other humans. You tell them where to build things, they build them. You research new weapons, your warriors can access them. Seems pretty simple. You can give orders to your human teammates, and they get a hint on their screen telling them to go do it, but they can also choose to ignore your orders.

Sounds simple, right? Truthfully, RTS mode is where the game breaks down slightly, and it's mostly in the research setup. A Commander who knows what he's doing can get through the majority of the technology tree in about five minutes, which creates a problem for inexperienced Commanders as they tend to get verbal abuse from the more experienced players. 

The game supports up to 64 players in a battle. Two, and only two, enter Commander mode.

Now, here's what the REST of them do.

First Person mode is more violent than the RTS mode. Everything a player does revolves around attacking. Attack a mine, and you mine materials from it. Once you have enough, you'll get prompted to go to the nearest stronghold/garrison to deposit them. Attack one of the random neutral enemies on the map and kill it to receive gold or more ammo. Attack an enemy worker or human player to do the same.

Die, and you wait for a respawn timer before you come back. The good part is that when you come back, whatever your Commander has researched will be waiting, and can be equipped to your new character. (You can also enter this loadout screen by entering a garrison/stronghold).

In loadout mode, you can also turn yourself into an upgraded warrior, or into a siege machine. Pick and choose as effective. If you don't have the money, there's a button to request some from your Commander, who may or may not approve the request from HIS gold reserves.

Healing is done by units the Commander promotes; hang around them, and you slowly heal. Unfortunately, it's VERY slow. 

Your job: Follow the orders of your Commander. Take territory, defeat enemies, load yourself up for best battle effectiveness. Without you, the Commander is nothing; there are no AI-controlled warriors to be bought. Every time you defeat an enemy or damage an enemy building, you receive experience, which as you level up grants your character better armor, better melee weaponry, and better physical stats. Running, jumping, and alternate attacks use your stamina, so they have to be balanced. The only current inherent flaw in the game is that while jumping uses stamina, you are allowed to jump with no stamina, creating a situation where bunny-hopping enemies (a la Quake) are commonplace.

In the game, there are only two races: Humans and Beasts. Humans are the technologically adept, earning improved bows, guns, electric guns, and eventually chemical explosives and flamethrowers. Their siege weapons are the Ballista and Catapult, which have limited firing arcs but do immense damage. In melee, they attack with swords and axes, and have an alternate attack that presents a block; timed properly, this block stuns the enemy who attacked, and leaves them open for counterattack.

Beasts, on the other hand, are mystical. Their melee attacks are barehand or with bone weapons, and their alternate attack is a leap forward that very quickly closes distance or sidesteps (so as to get around human weaponry). Their tech tree consists of improvements to melee that do poisoning, regenerate stamina, or regenerate hitpoints. Their ranged weapons are mystical spells of fire, ice, and chaos. Their siege weapons are shamans who fire explosive spells, and gigantic behemoths, who wield uprooted trees against anything slow or stupid enough not to get out of their way.

All in all, it's a worthy game, quick enough that one can sit down and play for a half hour, but engaging enough to play all day depending on mood. Definitely worth the money to get in. 

Oh, and did I mention that despite its being online-only, there's no monthly fee?

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Added:  Thursday, October 09, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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