Review by Paul Oyirifi
Original War starts off with an ever faithful plot - American scientists have found a machine in Siberia, and take it back to America to discover what it does - they soon find that the fuel which powers it is also in Siberia, and a team of soldiers are transported back in history - when they get there, they find the Russians already hard at work to get the fuel, and this is where the tensions begin.
Original War isn't quite like any other Real Time Strategy games - it's actually got some features which make it stand out from the crowd and make it "original" - for starters the game takes an RPG style for part of the gameplay, especially near the start where you have to control your character, John Macmillan, around an isometric based level, in an attempt to find your other army members.
Once you meet up with a few of them the RTS style gameplay resumes, and it's from here that you notice that gameplay is different from the bog-standard RTS titles - there's none of the "build 400 units, send them all out to kill.. and watch them all die" tactics - instead you actually have to make do with the team that you have, and if they get shot, that's the end of them.
It's vital that you keep your team healthy - if, for instance, a scientist dies, then you'll have no one to do the scientists job, which means you'll not get very far in to the game - you can however tell one of your other team members to do the job, obviously at a lower skill level, but still able to do the job, and cleverly picking up the skills the more they do.
Line of sight is used to great effect, with the ability to hide behind trees and crawl through the grass in an attempt to "hide" from the opposition - add to this the use of "fog of war", and you soon have a lot of exploring and hunting to do when it comes to shooting your enemy - or when trying to avoid them hunting you.
There's a lot more to Original War than just hunting down the Russians and removing them though - to be able to actually fight against their army, you'll need to build factories, research the technologies, and then equip the vehicles with the very items that you need, which at times can be a hard choice.
Once you've completed the game (or even if you don't complete it) you can play as the Russians, which opens up a lot more gameplay, and extends the life of the title. Missions are well designed, and there's quite a few of them, each with varying objectives and all requiring a number of skills to be learnt when you first play them.
Overall as a RTS title, Original War is pretty impressive - it's got unequalled levels of playability, and stacks of features which really should have been exploited years ago. The graphics are clear and solid, just like the gameplay, but the voice acting is one of the small niggles which lets down the general presentation of the game. Another minor complaint is the AI system which doesn't seem to have a lot of intelligence to it, and can be enough to make you want to scream at your PC as your soldiers aimlessly walk in to your oppositions fire.Overall Score: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Virgin Interactive
Players: 1 (up to 4 on the internet or 8 on a LAN)
Recommended Price: £34.99
Available: NowBuy Original War from Amazon