When Sierra first released information on Outpost, their newest game, it seemed like the answer to the strategy fan's prayers, offering multi-player combat in outer space with plenty of different weapons, as well as diplomacy, science, and even economics. But when the game actually shipped, the multi-player aspect had been removed, along with many of the features that had been promised. But now, several years later, with their new game Deadlock, Accolade may have created the title that Outpost was meant to be.
Most of Deadlock's action takes place on Gallius IV, a planet rich in various resources that's just waiting for the right culture to come in and help it rise to greatness. The question is, which culture will it be? The Humans, along with six of the universe's most advanced alien races, are all ready to do whatever it takes to grab this precious piece of real estate. In single or multi-player mode, it will take a strong leader to manage to feed the workers, research new technologies, and gather resources, all while pushing back an all-too-clever foe.
This turn-based game has two major theaters: city management and regional management. On each individual city screen you'll need to direct your workers in the building of different structures (farms, research labs, factories, etc.) and the management of those structures. More farmers means more food, more scientists means more technology, and more technology means better weaponry, more efficient farms, and so on. In the regional setting, players will want to try and conquer as many different areas as possible, founding new cities as they go. Like the game itself, the challenge here is two-fold. First, players must continually maintain a strong military presence in order to keep the enemy from capturing the planet; and second, players must ensure that each one of their cities is operating smoothly. The total package can be mind-boggling at first, but players who devote enough time will quickly find the game to be both addictive and entertaining.
As the game progresses, players will have many different resources and technologies at their disposal. At the beginning of the game only wood, food, iron, and energy can be gleaned from the surroundings, but after devoting some time to research, players will be able to gather or create more complex resources including steel, electronic parts, Anti-Matter pods, and the two super-strong metals Endurium and Triidium, which make the completion of construction faster and more efficient. New structures like the Food Replication Plant and The Robotic Factory also speed up the production of food and new units respectively. Museums and Cultural Centers work to keep your populace happy under the worst of circumstances. New military units like Holocaust Cannons and Shockwave Dreadnoughts also reflect your culture's current level of technology and production.
There's still a lot of work left to do on Deadlock, but even at this earliest stage, the game shows a great deal of promise. The folks that designed the multi-player mode seem to have remembered everything, offering a simple setup and plenty of opportunity for both bitter rivalries and warm alliances. If you're a fan of the Civilization or SimCity series, Deadlock is definitely a game that you should watch out for as it nears completion.