Steel Soldiers Impressions

Bitmap Brothers gives us a tour of its upcoming real-time strategy game. Screenshots inside.

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Bitmap Brothers and EON Digital Entertainment visited the GameSpot office today to let us play an early version of their upcoming real-time strategy game Steel Soldiers. The game is the sequel to 1996's popular strategy game Z, and it was previously known as Z2. The game takes place in the future, after a fragile cease-fire has been agreed upon by two powerful warring interplanetary corporations. Both corporations use robotic soldiers to fight their wars and gain more territory. Players assume the role of the commander of a group of robots when something goes awry with the cease-fire. Through a series of 30 missions that take place in a variety of locations, players will find out what happened with the cease-fire and who their real allies are.

The game makes use of a 3D engine that lets players pan, rotate, and zoom in and out to view the action. Like its predecessor, Steel Soldiers is based on territorial control rather than resource management. Each side begins with a single territory, and it must capture flags in other territories in order to produce more resources. Construction units let players build 20 different types of structures, and 30 types of units are available through the course of the game. The game makes use of a shared line of sight, so some areas on the 3D maps have tactical value in addition to their value as resource producers.

The developer has designed the game to be easily accessible to all types of game players. While there is no actual tutorial in the game, the first few missions let players get accustomed to the controls, and three difficulty levels are available to custom-tailor the game experience. In addition, each robotic unit has a different personality that adds a sense of humor to the game. The multiplayer mode supports battles of up to eight players on 20 different multiplayer maps.

The game looks fairly complete, and the levels we saw were very playable. All 30 single-player missions are built, and the team is currently balancing and tweaking the units and maps. The developer is also recording new voices and sounds and working on the game interface. The game is scheduled for release in late February 2001.

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