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     "Donít be surprised when you look up for the first time after purchasing it to find weeks have gone by and your only remaining friends are imaginary. "

   Title: Machines by Acclaim

   Format: PC

   Reviewing Monkey: Simi N

   The Hype: "Wage war from multiple perspectives. True 3D environments. Sabotage and Espionage capabilities, Create 25 weapons of mass destruction." These were the Ďselling pointsí found on the game box. I personally didnít see any hype about this game whatsoever. It came on to the scene with a whisper and left just as quietly. When I first found the demo of this game, I didnít expect much. But it blew me away. Although I never saw any PR for this game, I know that if I had, this game definitely would have lived up to it. With great looks, tons of options, and a whole mess of cool weapons this strategy game definitely deserves a place among the greats.

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: 4 out of 5 => In short the graphics in Machines are astounding. Everything looks great from almost any angle. The machines are awesome from far away and up close. And the building graphics are just as cool, maybe even more so because while in the game the player can pilot any one of their machines and walk into a building to see what it looks like on the inside (awesome). The lighting effects created by weapons fire are awesome, but not so much as the weapons fire itself. The only complaints anybody would have about the graphics in this game would be that if they took the time to zoom way, way in and take a close look at the robots, there is sometimes a bit of polygon overlapping. But the fact is the gameplay rarely ever brings you that close unless you make it

   Game Play: 4 out of 5 => This game has the coolest feature I have seen in a strategy game ever. But letís not start right there. The game is right along the lines of Warcraft, but with fully 3D graphics, and along with those come strategic capabilities not seen in the 2D strategies. Who out there hasnít heard that possessing the high ground is all important, if you havenít go watch Ghettysburgh, well this game lets you take full advantage of your surroundings. Among the games coolest features is the ability to change from three different perspectives. You have the classic helicopter view from all the other strategy games, but you can also switch to a moving ground-based camera and watch your machines duke it out movie style. And of course the piece de la resistance, you can pick any one of your machines, and pilot it yourself! This mode is the coolest ever. And the game takes full advantage of the opportunities present in this mode. You can shoot at anything, or walk into your own buildings to see what the inside looks like. You can even walk into enemy buildings, and will have to for some of your missionís covert operations. You can do anything your machines can do -- note this is great for those covert missions when you donít trust your machinesí ability to sneak past an opponent--. The biggest problem with the game play is that your machines donít seem to be too intelligent. Itís almost as if the machines are controlled by a bunch of blind hamsters poking random buttons. They will do things sometimes that will make you shake your head in wonder. Donít be surprised if you loose a couple of units to friendly fire. But the game lets you get around this by giving you three initiative settings for your troops. If you donít want them to do anything stupid, just set their initiative on the lowest level and they wonít do anything you donít tell them to -- I like it this way best anyway--.

   Level and Environment Designs: 4 out of 5 => The levels in this game are pretty cool. Just having 3D terrain available makes for a more interesting strategy game, but you get the feeling they could have used this cool ability more. The problem is that the levels are still very generic feeling. Mountains always surround you on the edges of the map. This, of course, is somewhat necessary so that you wonít go out of the area, but they could have thought of other ways of making you stop. It just doesnít make sense that on every planet you inhabit you fight in a completely enclosed mountain valley. Other things that donít make sense are the fact that many times you will land on a planet and find paths already there. How the hell did they get there if you were the first beings to inhabit this place? But of course there is always a bright side. The game has the ability to do cool things with the 3D and every once in a while they do it very well. My favorite was when they made an entire level where you get to command your troops inside an enemy fortress. Unfortunately these cool bonuses are too few.

   Multiplayer: 4 out of 5 => The multiplayer concept and value of this game is pretty much the same as it is in Warcraft, with one exception. Being able to pilot your machines in first person definitely makes the game feel more personal, and one on one. It also gives you the option of creating cool in game mini-games with your friends. For example you can set up an arena where you and your friends each pilot one machine at a time and duke it out to see who is the best pilot.

   Replayability: 3 out of 5 => The replayability isnít too bad, but is only really for those who feel the need to not just beat the game, but master it. Tactics are stressed highly in this game, and its common to beat a level only after losing thirty or so of your troops, so going back and trying to sacrifice less is a good challenge, but wonít appeal to everybody. The other part of this is that when comparing this game to Warcraft (youíll notice that that seems to be the motif here) you donít get to choose sides, because it would be pointless in that since both sides were created by humans, both sides are exactly the same.

   Story/Dramatics: 2 out of 5 => The story is at best unimaginative, and it seems to be for that reason that it is not very present in the overall production. All we really get is an excuse for there being warring machines travelling across the galaxy. As it turns out in this game world, humans are extinct and have been for about 1,000 years, but the self replicating machines they created to colonize planets for them are still active, and there goal is to control all the planets in the galaxy. Thatís where you come in. Your job is to get your "race," of machines to destroy the others "races," who, by the way, were also created by humans. After this the story just goes away and you kill, kill, kill.

   Instructions and Learning Curve: 5 out of 5 => The game comes with many instructions that tell you everything you need to know about playing. And if you donít like to read, there is a training segment of the game, that you must complete to begin your missions. This segment takes you through all the basics, and the not so basics are picked up quickly after that. So overall this game comes with great instructions that wonít make your head explode, and has a training program in to make the curve that much shorter.

   Installation and Real System Requirements: 5 out of 5 => The installation process of this game is pretty straightforward, and doesnít take too long. The minimum system requirements are as follows: Direct 3D Compatible 3D Accelerator, Windows 95/98, Pentium 200mhz or Equivalent, 32Mb RAM, 150 Mb Hard Drive Space, 4X CD Rom Drive, Direct X Compatible Sound Card. And with this very attainable list of system requirements, just about everybody should be able to get in on the fun.

   The Verdict:

       This is an overall great real-time strategy game. It has all of the good points of the Blizzard strategy games (Warcraft, Spacecraft, etc.) but now itís all in 3D. And have loads of cool extras like being able to pilot any machine yourself. With great graphics, and totally in-depth gameplay, this game deserves to be shown off to all of your friends. But donít be surprised when you look up for the first time after purchasing it to find weeks have gone by and your only remaining friends are imaginary.

   The Good: Great graphics, cool extras, hard missions, tons of strategy, and strategy is spelled wrong on the jewel case insert!

   The Bad: Weak story, not the best replayability, and they couldíve done so much more with level design.

   The Overall Ugly: The best strategy game this side of Warcraft.

   What it's Worth: This game is definitely worth the $29.99 that I paid for it, but if you ever find it above $19.99 Iíd be surprised. NOTE You will be hard pressed to find this game in stores anymore, but you can still get it, or tons of information about it at the acclaim website: www.acclaim.com.

Buy it now from Amazon.com

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