I was recently contacted be an indie game developer about his game AI War. I probably won't be able to get a full review done for a bit, but here's my initial impression...
AI Wars is an RTS (Real-Time Strategy) game set in space. The basic background is that after many wars, mankind finally learned to live in peace with each other - unfortunately the artificial intelligence war machines that humans have created aren't going to stop fighting. This is not a game for the faint-hearted; each campaign is estimated to last about 10-12 hours. There is no storyline mode, which to me is a bit of a shame (I prefer to have an overall objective in the games I play, but that's just personal preference), but the scope for variety in the game is practically endless. The maps are absolutely massive - you're basically talking about a a hunderd or so star systems per campaign.
The game has multiplayer capacity - you can host a game with up to 8 players, though I'm not sure how the game handles saving / loading what's going on if that's the case (real-time would mean everyone has to be online simultaneously, so what if someone loses their connection or has to leave the game for another reason?), though I've only tried a single-player game so far. There's no PVP mode which may disappoint some, but I actually quite like the fact that you have to cooperate against the AI - which fits in well with the storyline the game is set against.
The interface works very well, it takes a bit of getting used to as you'd expect, but the game is very well designed. The graphics are 2D and sometimes can look a little cluttered when you have hundreds of ships clustered in the same area, but judicious use of the zoom helps this. The way the ships group, move and regroup is pretty cool - rather like a shoal of fish (only with lasers and stuff). The backgrounds look great and the ships do as well, when you're zoomed in enough to see them properly. The music is good though I'm not quite sure it always really fits the game.
Overall AI War is a game very much for RTS purists - I can't see newcomers to the genre being able to cope with the immense scale and complexity of it all to be honest. It's obviously best-suited for people who like open-ended games as well, though I have to say that I enjoyed the game very much even without a set campaign mode. The AI is very important in this game - there are a huge number of different levels / types of opponent you can face, and without giving too much away about how it works, the way you play the game will genuinely affect the AI's actions in the game.
If you've been looking for a challenging, detailed RTS that will fill your strategy needs for a long time, and particularly if you have a few friends who would want to join you in your battle against the AI, then this could very well be what you've been looking for.
Head over to the Arcen Games Website for more information and to download the trial verion.
CaptainD - PC Gaming Blog