First ImpressionsSteel Soldiers

We take a look at an early build of the follow-up to Z. New screens inside.

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We recently had a chance to play through an early build of Steel Soldiers, Bitmap Brothers' sequel to Z. Like the previous game, Steel Soldiers' gameplay is primarily based on the acquisition of zones, which serve as the primary resource in the game--though most missions come down to destroying the enemy control center. The more zones players have, the greater capacity they have to manufacture units and construct buildings. Securing new zones has an obvious tactical advantage as well, since players can construct new units closer to the enemy lines, thus giving the home base area a little breathing room and more time to build a substantial line of defense in case the enemy breaks through.

In the first mission of this particular build, players are given a preset number of zones, along with a few infantry and mobile units such as tanks and antiair vehicles. There are a few tactics players can use in this mission--the most obvious is to run out and grab as many of the surrounding zones as possible and increase production capabilities. This works for a short period of time, but the opposing force generally comes in from the side to capture a zone that's somewhat secluded in an area next to the home base, so players have to decide whether or not they want to build up a defense before moving their forces out of the home area. Another strategy that players can use is to destroy all the nearby bridges, delaying any enemy attack and giving players more time to capture more zones and build more units.

Though there are still some issues to be resolved before Steel Soldiers is complete, most aspects of the game work quite well, such as the camera, which you can rotate and zoom using simple mouse controls. The line-of-sight gameplay, where enemy units are only detected depending on a unit's visual range, adds to the overall strategy of the game. Visually, the game looks solid, with detailed landscapes and nice special effects such as reflective water.

For more information, take a look at our previous coverage of the game. Steel Soldiers is due out in June.

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