Many developers have tried to bring RTS games to consoles; this has been with mixed success. Each has done it in a different way; EndWar presented voice command and the likes of Red Alert 3 took the more traditional resource gathering route. However, Under Siege combines the two ideas above into something that works brilliantly for consoles.
Under Siege places the control back into your hands, giving you just an army and an enemy to fight with. However, this might seem a little short-handed for the modern day market, but Under Siege makes up for it with some excellent gameplay.
The game starts off with a massive of army of strange looking goblin creatures attacking the different races in habiting the world in which Under Siege is based. This soon leads you into taking control of a small unit in your tutorial session, this teaches you the basics of the game and how it all works. But the strategic side of things doesn’t drop until the first chapter’s initial level begins. Here you are presented with options as to which type of soldiers you want to take into battle, these can include basic swordsmen, archers or gunners. The type of unit that you choose also helps direct your decision making in further levels, because as you play you are able to increase your units levels, thus making them more affective battle. However, there is a catch, this isn’t the case across the board as if your highest level soldiers enter into the fray and get killed you will lose their level and when you place your next unit for the following mission they will start again from nothing. Possibly harsh in this gaming world, but it adds a delicious layer to the strategy. To level your soldiers up you need gold, this can be collected from around the battlefield in chests that you will need to hunt around for. In addition to the chest there are health vials dotted around to try and help you keep your men or women up to strength.
Once you are ready to go the screen you are presented with is nice and clean, you have a mini map in the top right corner denoting your position and any enemies in the immediate area as well as the objective that you need to reach. The game’s maps are an impressive scrawl of terrains, which offers a strong variety to the gameplay and gives you a greater tactical edge to things. Enemies are denoted by red dots on the mini map and their classes are pretty much the same as the ones presented to you. However, to make the game more challenging they do have some super units that will take most of your unit’s power to take down. As with most RTS games there is no control over the units once engaged in battle other than the option to tell them to move elsewhere if they are losing.
One key feature here that I haven’t mentioned is that the game revolves around you surviving. I know that seems stupid to say, but it is true. In Under Siege there is no base building and no reinforcements, so if you lose all your units in battle then its game over. This really does mean that you need to choose the units that you take into battle well.
The game’s story is divided into 6 chapters; however don’t let the fact that it seems short fool you. This game has a very dark side to it. You see, underneath all the simple gameplay points there is a rock hard difficulty. The first chapters are nice to you, they aren’t a walk in the park but they don’t punish you too much. However, the later chapters do ramp up the difficulty a lot and make you feel like you didn’t upgrade enough or did something wrong earlier in the game. This could be just lack of experience with the game and as you tackle a level over and over you will learn how to beat it, but at the same time do you really want to? The problem is by the time that you have beaten a level you’ve played it for days on end and actually feel like giving up even after the small thrill of victory.
Thankfully the multiplayer component is better and stronger. Playing against humans was, to say the least, a more forgiving experience and I found myself actually really enjoying the tactical side of planning a battle with another human mind to fight against.
There is also inclusion of the Move controller in the game, which for all intends and purposes you could do without. It doesn’t make the experience better, it makes it harder, and the integration just doesn’t work. The DualShock is far more fitting for the game, but then again this game was released in America not long after the Move hit so you do have to question if the inclusion was as a gimmick or not.
Everything is here to make this game a great one; it has a strong story, excellent use of the controller for an RTS and some very addictive multiplayer options. But the difficulty just ramps up too much, too quickly. If the game was a little more forgiving then things wouldn’t be so bad, but unfortunately it isn’t.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: PS3)