The Unholy War is a fast-paced real-time battle game that features a few minor strategy elements. It comes from the creator of such classics as Star Control and Archon, and many similarities to these games can be drawn. The game features a wide variety of very unique characters that all have special weapons, which are used to annihilate each other in a true 3D arena.
The game has two modes of play. Combat mayhem is an arcade-styled 3D weapon-based fighting game. You select one of the two races to battle with (each team has seven characters to choose from). Your opponent, whether human or computer controlled, selects which fighter he'll send into battle. Once one of the characters is destroyed, the loser picks another fighter from his team to battle. This goes on until all of the characters from one team have been defeated. The second mode of play, combat tactics, lets you position your characters on a hexagonal board. Each player takes a turn and is allowed to move his characters. Every time you take a turn you are rewarded with points. These points can be used to purchase reinforcements and initiate a special attack from the board. Once two characters meet on the board, a real-time battle begins.
The Unholy War, at its roots, is basically a game of chess. Both sides have characters with their own individual attacks. You strategically move these pieces on a board. And once you reach an opposing character, a battle ensues. Since each character on both teams has its own individual strengths and weaknesses, it's critically important to choose the right character to use against each foe. This strategic angle of the game is limited and simply adds more to do in the game than just battling.
The control is elegantly basic. You can use either the D-pad or analog stick to control the characters. Each character has three forms of attack ranging from laser blasts to punches. The fourth button is used for jumping or, for certain characters, flying.
Graphically, Unholy War is beautiful. The polygonal characters all look amazingly detailed. The lighting effects used give life to the explosions and energy weapons. The 14 different maps that you fight on all look great and all have unique terrain, weather, and obstacles. The intelligent camera is fantastic; it zooms out when you and your opponent get some distance between each other and then zooms in when you get closer. Overall, Unholy War is a really fun game, especially when playing with another player. However, the AI of the computer is really good, and you can have fun fighting it out alone as well. The only negative side to the game is its lack of depth. The combat tactics mode really doesn't offer that much more to the game. Yet, the two-player mode is so much fun that you'll play it again and again.