There are times when it's good to step back, to look at the places from where we came, or just generally to get back to nature. By and large, though, we as gamers appreciate nature in a variety of ways ourselves..trees for lumber, stone, gold, and that crazy Vespian gas stuff. It is in this vein of showing us the beauty of nature before we mess about with it for fun that Aspyr Entertainment brings to us it's latest release of Paraworld.
And You Thought Your Field Trips Were Rough!
The plot revolves around a man named Jarvis Babbet and his group, called the SEAS(Society for the Exact Alternative Sciences), which had as it's chief mission the discovering of parallel dimensions and the founding of a reliable way to cross over to these dimensions and back again. This is facilitated by a computer of Babbit's own design, which is used to reliably plot when a portal to this world-this Paraworld-will open.
He Went Out The Way He Came In-Looking Stupid.
This is all very fine and pleasant until three young scientists stumble upon the secret that Babbit and his group have been trying to conceal. These are Anthony Cole, an Irish American geologist who is hot tempered and apparently has no shame, Stina Holmlund who is a biologist from Sweden, and the somewhat introverted Hungarian physicist Bela Andras Bendek. All three of these characters have been sealed away in Paraworld to prevent the secret of its existence, and the rejuvenatory powers that are a strange byproduct of the world, from the rest of the people back home on Earth.
Hey, It's A Growth Area!
So, these three must fight their way across the Paraworld, gathering new allies(and certainly angering someone along the way), as they find a way to get back home to Earth. Each unit will bear a certain type of weapon that is backed up by a special ability. Mr. Cole bears two swords, which can be used for your dual wielding pleasure. He also can learn a shotgun effect where heavy damage is done to one target and causes splash damage on nearby enemy targets. Ms. Holmlund is the Dr. Doolittle of the group, as she will ride a saber toothed tiger around after the tutorial mission and has a special move that will temporarily put animals to sleep. Mr. Bendek is the archer, bearing a rather large composite bow, and has a special ability called Sniper Shot, which can do large amounts of damage to a single target from quite a long way away.
It's Hell Getting In There, Let Me Tell Ya!
In addition to this they will be backed up by a wide array of units that can be trained and promoted as you go along. The types are versions of the preexisting classes used in other RTS games-archers, warriors, druids, lancers, and spearmen..well, spearwomen, actually whose powers can be increased by the defeating of enemies and the collection of their skulls afterward. Yes, I know, it does sound ghoulish, but the skulls are necessary to increase the power of your heroes and other units. Also, as the game goes on, you will be able to reinforce your army with wild boars, mammoths, and dinosaurs of various types including-wait for it-the T-Rex. Units of that size are known as Titan units.
Oh, like you've never felt like that when you've had everyone on your back.
But why don't we go for the scores now, shall we?
The room falls silent as he explains his Swiss Cheese theory of dimensions.
Gameplay-7. The gameplay of the game is a simplistic yet well designed system that anyone who has played an RTS game before will pick up smoothly. For those who haven't, an in-game training system at the start of the game will get players adjusted to the unit commands, harvesting of resources, special abilities, and the placing and uses of buildings. All of that quickly acclimates the player to the in game world. Point, click, and off you go.
Graphics-8. I was running this game at a 1280 by 1024 resolution that was backed up by at ATI Radeon 9500 graphics card, reinforced by a gig of ram, and the game ran rather smoothly for me; except when the autosave was happening, in which case the game would lag some but nothing you could call an inconvenience. The game looks rather good too and is quite the bargain; the lumbering dinos that tromp hither and yon through your camp, the ebb and flow of the water, and the nice little twists like Stina pausing to give her tiger a pat when she's been idle come together to make a game that is graphically good, but not so that most gamers wouldn't be able to run it.
Audio-8. I liked the audio in this game. Each clan had a background music that, when things were quiet, provided a rhythm to the harvesting, exploring, or construction that your units were engaged upon. But when a fight started, the music would suddenly shift it's pace, move fast, and drums would suddenly appear. The music's overall intention was to deepen the notes of the music as your units struggled with whomever they were fighting at the time and then slow down again. I know this is true of every RTS game, but you just have to appreciate a well done job when you see it. The voice acting is good for the limited vocal time, but it's nothing anyone would grumble over. The transport ship's pattern did make me laugh. You click on it and you hear "Yo?" and then when you told it to move, there was the exclamation "Yo!". I found it funny; please don't ask me to explain why.
Value-7. Paraworld retails for $30.00. With that, you get 16 missions to play and three different tribes starting with the Norsemen, moving onto the Dustriders(nomads) and then to the Dragon Clan who would correspond to the residents of Asia on Earth. The game also features a Multiplayer system with LAN, Internet, and a mode where you can join or host your own server by entering the particular IP address. Add to this a game that is challenging, well designed graphically, and possessing gameplay mechanics that are familiar to players of your typical RTS game, Paraworld is a good game for fans of the RTS genre.
Curve-7. I found a lot to like about Paraworld. The well designed units and environments, the excellent musical scores, the fun that came from being able to train and control dinosaurs in battle, and the fact that I could pick up the mechanics of the gameplay easily and get right on with playing with it's learn as you go style. I have to tell gamers out there, though, that you won't find much new in the game. It's a well done RTS game, but it's still an RTS game at it's core. You build a base, you defeat the enemy, and you move on to the next. You fight on land, you fight on sea. You can appreciate and enjoy the game, but don't expect from it what it's not going to deliver. Just enjoy watching the stegosaurus run rampant over the enemy.
Workman's comp aieeeeee!!
Send all praise or comments about this article to Nick McCavitt at firstname.lastname@example.org