broitman's Armada 2526 (PC) review

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HalfBeard HUD's review of Armada 2526

 This review comes from my own website, HalfBeard's HUD, and was written by yours truly. I noticed there wasn't a review of this title up and I figured I'd put up mine so my fellow GBers could have a review of this title.

 We have a particularly nerdy title for review that goes by the name Armada 2526 made by new developer Ntronium Games. Armada 2526 is an incredibly intricate strategy game similar to that of “Civilization” or “Settlers” but taking place in space. Similar to Civ there isn’t a story mode or campaign to deal with here but rather just the making of custom games or playing of pre-built scenarios. The biggest feature that Armada 2526 boasts is massive size of the games you can create with up to 50 factions allowable at once though the game is only single player so every faction but you is just AI.

The RTS battles look epic as all get out when zoomed in all the way.

To start off with we’ll talk about the visuals on display here which are very good when you consider the massive amount of stuff being rendered. There are two modes which you’ll be experiencing in Armada 2526; a turn based strategy mode and a real-time battle mode both of which look fairly nice. The turn based mode takes place over a large (and I mean a super massive large) star map. This star map is fairly well detailed and when there are a lot of planets and ships on-screen at once it has a very busy look to it which can be astounding to behold (if not a little intimidating). The real-time battles take place on an up close view of where ever the battle is taking place with every ship represented  with a nice looking 3d model. The fire fights look alright as well and as with the strategy screen things can get pretty crazy looking when enough units are on-screen at once. All that said though this game’s visuals are nothing special and the style of it all is just a little too standard sci-fi meaning that despite its impressive space battles it still feels kind of bland.

See all those specks, each is a star system you can set up a colony on. The best part is that's just a quarter of the total map.

The music is as suitably booming and epic as it should be and it blends well with the ambiance that the game is trying to create. The only problem with the music is that it’s somewhat repetitive and you’ll grow bored or annoyed with it not long into your game.  Beyond that as with the visuals there isn’t really anything special to talk about here.

One of the many races you can play as, almost all of which look this awesome.

This reason this game exists is its gameplay as it seems to exist only to supply a niche population of the gaming public with the kind of no-nonsense, overly intricate, insanely long strategic mind fucks that can be made. While shorter campaigns are possible and a space battle only mode is available it’s very clear that’s not the point of this title. There are 12 different races you can play as and encounter and within those races are multiple factions you can play as. Every race and every faction has unique traits and each has an interesting back story (though you might have to dig a bit to find them) in all honesty if they applied this universe to another genre I think I would be much more interested than am in this title.

It wouldn't be a space game without an over proportionate amount of lasers.

The actual gameplay consists of balancing the managing your planets, diplomatic negotiations, colonization of unexplored planets, and warfare, if that all seems like a lot to keep track of well then you’re right. There are vast numbers of options when dealing with all of the situations I’ve just mentioned (far too many for me to even begin with here) and even the lengthy tutorial can’t seem to cover to them all. If you’re not a veteran of the genre you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and as such it can take quite a while to get any good at this game.

All that is just the strategy mode though there is also the RTS mode which plays exactly as you’d expect with standard point and click controls. To be fair the RTS mode is completely optional meaning that if you’re like me and would rather stick with turn based stuff you can just hit auto and let the computer handle the battles for you.

All in all this feels like a game that while a lot of people will end up confounded by it, a cult following is sure to show up and it keep it going for ages. The depth of the strategy, insane length of custom campaigns, and it’s inherent re-playability will make this game a god send to right players. Unfortunately because that audience is on the niche side I can’t give this game a great score. Armada 2526 gets a 3 out 5 stars, for the right people this is the perfect game but for everyone else it’s the video game equivalent of a calculus textbook.

For those of you that are interested Armada 2526 can be found at local gaming retailers or online at Stardock and GamersGate.

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