The Z wiki last edited by jgf on 03/22/13 05:02PM View full history


CGI Cutscene, Commander Zod
Z became very popular amongst strategy fans and in 2001, a modern 3D-accelerated sequel was published by EON Digital Entertainment. The sequel was called Z:Steel Soldiers, differentiating itself from the first game. Unable to satisfy the expectations of fans, the sequel was criticized for adapting modern RTS mechanics that were very different from the first game.

Story

Z is a riotous race for supremacy between armies of space-faring robots with the personalities of humans.

Your aim, as the commander of your robot forces, is to annihilate the enemy forces and to conquer each planet that you land on. The enemy on each planet are disposed of in one of two ways. You can either destroy all of their soldiers, or if you can break through their defences walk one of your robots straight into their headquarters and blow it sky-high. The action is fast and furious. Be prepared to make life and death decisions on the spur of the moment. Remember, in Z, hesitate and you've had it. Experience the war alongside the trigger-happy Commander Zod and two notorious robot slackers from the Red Faction, Brad and Allan.

Gameplay

Z isn't a traditional real-time strategy game.

Unlike similar games, the objective is to defeat the enemy by capturing territory and either destroying all the enemy units or by sending one of your own inside their headquarters. The original game is also extremely slow, with emphasis on strategy and building tension, but with Z95, they offered the option for faster gameplay. Along the way, the action is complimented by the voices of your comrades and overall the experience is much more light-hearted than other RTS games, Along the way the action is complimented by the voices of your comrades and overall the experience is much more light-hearted than other RTS games, but still provides a very good challenge.

Gameplay
While other RTS games usually focus on gathering resources and building your base and army, these elements are handled automatically and the gameplay focuses on action and micro management. Instead of creating buildings, you capture the territory that a building is encompassed by and it will automatically begin producing units for you. This is an interesting mechanic because an enemy can potentially capture your territory right before your units are produced and vice versa. You are able to choose what units are manufactured by each individual factory, but the rate of production is determined by how powerful the unit is, how much territory your team has captured and how much damage that building has taken. The terrain can be deformed, with sometimes surprising results. Rocks can be exploded and the debree will fly up in the air and can kill units if they get crushed by it, the same is true for anything that explodes. Humourously enough, if your units are bored and decide to shoot at near-by lizards, it is possible for them to fall on your units too. Bridges can be destroyed to distract the enemy, factories can be destroyed to delay reinforcements.

Z brings a lot of personality to the genre, your units will respond to your orders and decisions - Expressing calmness, anger, terror, anxiety and desperation. This acts as a way of communicating with the player on a more understandable level and less intruding manner. For example, if you send weak units against more powerfuls ones they will respond hesitantly and if you're about to be defeated, your units and the commentator will curse at you. They will also express delight if you win and anxiety to move in if the enemy is vastly outnumbered. Voice acting keeps the game HUD fairly minimal allowing the player to concentrate on the action. The environments are very much alive, unlike other RTS games with wonderful animation and interactivity, the A.I. demonstrates intelligence on it's own whether that's taking flags and capturing vehicles or interacting with each other and their envrionments while idle, this makes micro management less frustrating when you have multiple enemy encounters at different locations.

Features

  • Intuitive control interface, pick up and play
  • Detailed graphics and animation
  • Many different capturable buildings like factories, radar and repair installations
  • 6 robot types and 11 types of hardware from tanks to artillery
  • Over 30 minutes of animated cutscenes with voice-overs
  • Conditional music system blends one theme into another to fit the action
  • Fast and Frantic gameplay with up to 4 players over the Internet or Local Area Network
  • Real-time sprite scale and rotation enabled through automatic hardware scaling

Expansion-Pack only

  • Improvements made to the A.I. and unit balancing
  • Three levels of difficulty and three speed settings
  • Up to 4 player multi-player support with a single CD-ROM (ZExpansionXP improves multiplayer support)
  • 35 single player, 25 two player, 15 three and four-player maps.
  • Multi-Player level editor
  • Bonus Windows 95 theme pack included

World

Combat takes place on several planets, with 4 missions on each. When one is successfully captured, a space ship transports the robot army to another. Worlds are divided into the following types:
  1. Desert
    A dry, open and scarcely vegetated environment, in which units have little trouble moving around freely. The player encounters rivers and islands as they progress through the battles on this planet. Some territories are controlled by flags on islands.
  2. Volcanic
    A much more hostile environment. Lava flows are an impassable barrier.
  3. Arctic
    A frozen world of snow and ice spanned by glacial rock formations.
  4. Jungle
    A verdant world of menacing swamps and impenetrable chasms. Crocodiles in the swamps eat robots hanging around the mud.
  5. City
    A decaying industrial complex where danger lies around every corner. Monsters in sewers will ambush robots moving through water.

Units

Able to capture vehicles and artillery. Collect grenades and travel through swamps.
  1. Grunts
    CGI Cutscene, Brad and Allan
    Weakest units, quickest to build. Equipped with rifles, they can be useful to have besides a vehicle so that if the driver is sniped, you have more units to control the vehicle. Grenades make them significantly more powerful. Other than out of desperation, these guys are best avoided in favour of stronger units.
  2. Psychos
    Moderately powerful, slower but also quick to build. They carry rapid-fire machine guns and can quickly eliminate un-guarded grunts.
  3. Tough
    Strong and as implied, they have the best armour. Not very intelligent, they carry missile guns comparable to the turrets of a tank, however they are unable to snipe enemies out of their vehicles and should be put aside if you hope to capture vehicles instead of destroying them.
  4. Sniper
    Equipped with a rifle, they are able to shoot enemies out of their vehicles and artillery guns from a distance and more effectively than grunts, making them less of a target. Extremely intelligent.
  5. Pyros
    Expensive but effective, especially against tanks. These units are semi-intelligent and only slightly less protected than Toughs.
  6. Laser
    These units carry lasers. Vulnerable due to their slow reloading time, however their weapon packs quite a punch. They aren't very intelligent and take the longest time to build.

Vehicles

Drivers can be shot out of vehicles, allowing them to be captured by the enemy.
  1. Jeep
    Common early in the game, but are generally ignored in favour of tanks later on. Jeeps carry machine guns and they are fast, it is possible to dodge grenades and wipe out weaker units.
  2. Light Tank
    The lightest tank is also the fastest of the bunch, will easily make mince meat of large groups of grunts but may struggle against any kind of artillery or multiple jeeps. Vulnerable to being taken over, thus becoming a tough enemy unless you keep your own robots nearby.
  3. Medium Tank
    Faster than Heavy, stronger than Light. May be preferable over Heavys when speed cannot be entirely compromised.
  4. Heavy Tank
    Strong but very slow to build. On top of their tough armour, they also have extended firing range making them effective against almost anything.
  5. Mobile Missile
    Very expensive compared to other vehicles. They'll take a long time to build and they're extremely slow but pose a huge threat, capable of destroying missile artillery with ease due to maneuverability.
  6. APC
    Use to transport and protect your robots, the vehicle adapts to the units it carries and it's weapons will vary as such.
  7. Crane
    The crane is used to repair destroyed buildings and bridges. Vehicles still need to use the repair factories.

Artillery

Effectiveness of artillery is based on the intelligence of the robot unit operating it.
  1. Gatling
    Gatling guns are equipped with machines guns which offers rapid fire but it cannot resist a lot of damage, usually being destroyed by even the weakest units.
  2. Gun
    A gun is turret equipped with rockets that is capable of destroying light tanks, they are faster than Howitzer and Missile artillery and have better armour than gatling guns.
  3. Howitzer
    Excellent range and good damage. While they're slow to build and weaker than the gun, the enemy usually won't get close enough to deliver enough damage. Extremely slow rate of fire may allow units to get close enough to deal considerable damage.
  4. Missile
    Stronger than heavy tanks, high armour for an artillery. Generally equal to the mobile missile but being stationary puts it at a disadvantage.

Weapons

There are six different weapons, some are used by multiple unit types.
  1. Rifle
    Used by the grunt and the sniper, the rifle doesn't offer much damage against robots, but when aimed at a vehicle driver too busy to defend himself, can kill him and make the vehicle unoccupied and available for capturing.
  2. Machine Gun
    With its increased fire rate, the machine gun easily gives the psycho a serious edge over rifle units.
  3. Missile Gun
    The most damaging robot weapon, the toughs weapon is extremely powerful, comparable only to the tank's turrets.
  4. Flame Gun
    With a good fire rate, the flame gun is one of the tanks worst enemies, and can easily put down robots.
  5. Laser
    The most powerful robot weapon, with high reload and tank-piercing properties, the laser weapon is a sight to behold.
  6. Grenade
    Available scattered around the map, the grenades can be thrown at long range and enable weak robots to destroy rocks, buildings and bridges, and inflict serious damage on tanks. Never try to pick grenades with a tough or robot that already carries grenades, or else...

Structures

There are eight different kinds of structures.
  1. Headquarters
    Your fortress can have up to 4 artillery units deployed on it's corners, if an enemy destroys your headquarters or sends a unit inside, the game will automatically end.
  2. Radar
    Once captured, you will have an overview of the entire map. If your radar is destroyed, you will not be able to easily keep track of your territory and enemy.
  3. Robot Factory
    Builds robot  and artillery units, can be destroyed.
  4. Vehicle Factory
    Builds vehicle units, can be destroyed.
  5. Repair Factory
    Send vehicles to the repair factory to have them repaired, the penalty for manufacturing new vehicles can be high so it is useful to keep your units in good condition.
  6. Bridge
    Used by units to cross swamps, robots are capable of moving through the swamps but this can be dangerous. However if destroyed, vehicles will either be forced to change their route or to repair the broken bridge in order to cross it.
  7. Rocks
    Act as a barrier. Can be destroyed by tanks or robots equipped with grenades.
  8. Swamp
    Can be hazardous and only robots can cross them. There is a chance that robots will be eaten by crocodiles.

Development

Z was in development for roughly 3 years and was likely influenced by Dune 2, a game that popularized the RTS genre.

Reception

The game was known best for it's sense of humor, excellently rendered cinematics and it's polished graphics and animation.
It was released alongside other big names in the real-time strategy genre, such as Warcraft 2 and Command & Conquer.

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