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Savage: The Battle for Newerth

Developer: S2 Games
Publisher: IGames Publishing LLC
Genre: Real-Time Strategy / Action / Real-Time Strategy Online
Players: 1-64
ETA: Sept. 2003
Similar To: BattleZone (1998)
Published: 08 :28 : 03
Previewed By: Ryan Newman


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Official Statement

Set in a unique fantasy world eons from now where Humans and Beasts battle violently for their very existence. Savage transports PC gamers to the next level in multi-player gaming. Choose to fight on the side of HUMANITY, armed with science and technology, or take the side of the BEAST HORDE, masters of nature and magic. Each race has its own style of battle, its own leader, and its own way to victory. Which side are you on?

General Information
Savage is an online-only title that will attempt to meld elements of real-time strategy, first-person shooters, and third-person action titles. Players will get to take the role of both commander and grunt as they play in a non-persistent online world against others, with each side taking either form of man or beast.

Taking place on Earth, millions of years from now, gamers will get to battle over varying landscapes with a variety of weapons that range from crossbows to makeshift shotguns. With up to 64 players (32 vs. 32) per map, there are sure to be some massive conflicts. In this future, man has merged his primal hunting skills with skewed technology to pose a formidable foe against the magic and melee-intensive beasts. With one player as the commander, the rest of the troops will take the roles of defenders, attackers, harvesters, and repairers -- all those lovely tasks we've enjoyed watching little troops doing for so long.

With the promise of a true morphing of the player from god to grunt, Savage is looking like an interesting title that may well provide a haven for those who want a little more variety from their online titles.

With Savage due in early September, I'll do what I can to garner some interest in this unique title. To be honest, I wasn't particularly pumped about Savage; how many times have cross-genre titles gone well? Not very often, I'll tell you that. So, the thought of an online-only title that tried to blend not only action and first-person shooting elements, but also strategy, left me a little leery - after all, the last title I played that was online and of a mixed genre was Purged, and I've yet to play more than four games of it due to lack of servers and lackluster performance.

However, it didn't take long for Savage to hook me. The player can either start off as the commander (the strategy aspect) or a grunt, which puts the player in both a third-person action mode and first-person mode, depending on whether or not the weapon equipped is a long-range or melee, although some long-range weapons keep the player in third-person, but that's class-specific. Either way, the strong mix of styles and gameplay becomes strong shortly after starting, and the player can settle into whichever role they're most comfortable with.

The instant action hooked me immediately, with both sides having a basic grunt character that's used for close-combat; each also has secondary feats, as the humans can block and beasts have a super jump although each of these drains the player's stamina bar. At the beginning, the player can either do what their commander instructs, help harvest resources and assist in building, or gain experience by killing NPC creatures - which also drop gold and other goodies. Or, for the more bloodthirsty bunch, go on and attack with the classic rush approach.

Like strategy titles, once the appropriate buildings are built and gold is gathered or given, the player can enter a stronghold to upgrade themselves. Aside from melee-based upgrades like siphoning energy, poison, and health, there are also ranged upgrades, like enhanced crossbows, upgraded elemental attacks (beasts; fire, electricity), or guns that have characteristics of auto and semi-automatic weapons (humans). There are also purchasable items, similar to those that heroes can use in WarCraft III that will refill health, ammo, or induce a state of fury, and so on. Similarly, there are also unit upgrades that alter health, strength, and speed; some of these are limited in what they can use and carry, but often make up for their shortcomings. During the course of gameplay, the experience that the character gains will also increase their stats and will provide upgrades in weapon and armor. To top things off, there are also siege weapons that can be used in taking a town, which need to be escorted and accurately deployed for maximum effect.

The commanders can not only tell the NPC workers what to do (mine, build, and repair), but also what the actual players should do as well. During my time with the beta, I found nearly everyone in this position to be competent and enjoying themselves. The leaders can instruct players on where to go, thanks to a nice navigational system that has a beam indicator like Star Wars Galaxies, but also what to construct, mine, and repair. They can also grant requests to players for goods and unit upgrades that they may not be able to afford on their own.

The levels included consisted of lush jungle and harsh snow-filled areas. Scattered throughout are rocks and gold to mine, but also random structures that can either be fortified or used as defense positions; these tend to be deployed well and can be very handy. The designs were actually solid and left many spots for skirmishes and heavier encounters to take place. I'm looking forward to trying out the rest.

It'll be interesting to see how Savage fares. It's a beautiful, fast-paced, and tactical affair that, if continued in proper form from the beta, should be a hit. It's surprising how well the mix holds up; by my accounts, both sides are balanced and are equally enjoyable to play. How long it remains exciting without a constant story or development to change remains to be seen, but I'm looking forward to heading back in and slugging more humans with a tree (screenshot 10).

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Related Links: S2Games.com