Real-time strategy games are the hot item among computer game players these days. The success of games such as Command & Conquer, Warcraft II, and Close Combat reveal the potential for similar offerings. M.A.X., courtesy of Interplay, does all of these one better by giving players the choice of real-time or turn-based gameplay. If you like the idea behind C&C, you'll love what this game has to offer. M.A.X. presents excellent visuals, excellent gameplay, and nearly infinite replay value in a package that's hard to resist.
At its core, M.A.X. is a military conquest/resource management game. It opens with a cinematic sequence that blows away the efforts of most other games. Following this, you're ready to jump into the options. Options? We've got options: training missions, scenarios, random scenarios, campaigns all available for your entertainment pleasure. The difficulty settings available for each mission include opponent quality, turn limits, and real-time vs. turn-based. Once you've made your choices, the game begins.
M.A.X. presents the game in a top-down SVGA view. Your task is to discover and mine resources on the planet. As surveyors crawl over the landscape, you must continue to build your colony. Numerous buildings are available for construction, from storage tanks to habitats for the colonists. The large number of military units allows you to pursue the military strategy of your choice. In addition, you can produce upgraded units from your vehicle factories. All of these aspects lead to a fairly steep learning curve. Luckily, M.A.X. includes 14 training missions to bring you up to speed.
Let's not forget your opponents. Up to three other human (or computer) opponents are fighting over the same planet. Expect your opponents to attack early and often. Learning the best way to stay alive can be a trying task. Even when your opponents are clueless, they can still put up a good fight. Combat involves the usual explosions and debris - nothing unique here. The sound effects, especially the female computer voice, are excellent.
Command & Conquer, move over. M.A.X. does it better, albeit with players spending much more time learning the game. With numerous missions, a campaign mode, and multiplayer support, do not expect this game to get old anytime soon. M.A.X. raises the standard for strategy games to a new level.