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A vast and threatening fleet was orbiting around the planet Gallius IV. In space above the terran world, the ships from the seven known races of the universe were like birds of prey, waiting for the colonization phase to begin. The treaty they just had signed, called the Compact of Gallius IV, besides having stopped hostilities in space, had also set up the rules to claim the planet. The race that would first build an agreed number of City Centers or drive other colonies off the planet's surface, would be allowed solely to continue its planetary conquest. The treaty's terms also stated that only four hundred colonists per race would be allowed to land on the planet with a minimal set of resources and weapon technology limited to laser pistols. But once landed, there were virtually no rules established. Each race was free to develop its resources, technologies and weaponry, and reach the conditions of the treaty even if it meant war.
|Approaching Gallius IV|
Before landing on the surface of Gallius IV, you need to choose a series of game options which are the number of players, victory conditions, computer skill level and rules. Regardless of the mode you select, you can play with up to seven players who can be humans, computers or both, computers' intelligence being chosen among five levels that range from Hog Tied to Supercharged. The victory conditions will decide how many City Centers you need to build to win the game from a minimum of two to a maximum of ten. With the rules, you decide if you want random events such as plagues and earthquakes for bad ones, or discovery of new resources and natives joining your colony for positive events. They will also let you choose between a normal or faster production. As you modify all these options, a percentage will indicate the overall level of difficulty you'll play with. Reaching a number of ten city centers with six other opponents will be, of course, a harder task than building only a couple with just a single adversary!
Once these options have been set, you will have to pick up which race you want to command. When you make your choice, be sure to learn about each race's unique abilities and weaknesses as they can drastically change the outcome of the game. Faster growing rates, higher productions, greater trade incomes are a few examples of the special abilities you will encounter among the seven races, while weaknesses will take the form of weaker military units, disease sensibilities, low tax incomes, etc. With this done, you must then decide the size of the planet from small to huge. There is even a custom option that allows you alter the proportion of oceans, mountains, plains, forests and swamps on the planet's surface, and also the colors, changing Gallius IV to a tropical or Martian-like world for example.
When you choose your landing site, you must keep in mind that not all terrains are equal when it comes to natural resources. While plains produce large quantities of food, they have poor amounts of iron and energy. On the contrary, the mountains and swamps that respectively contain more iron and energy, have less food and a slower population growth. Between these two extremes, the forests have all resources, but only in moderate quantities.
Deadlock's interface features two different views: World and Settlement. When you land on the planet, you will first see the world view that shows several territories at a time. Colored flags indicate which race the territories belong to, and special icons are used to report specific structures such as airfields, ports and fuel depots, or events like plagues and energy shortages. In the Settlement view, only the territory you selected either on the satellite map or the World view will be displayed on the screen. The city will be represented, like the World view, with a 3D isometric perspective similar to Sim City 2000. However, the size of the cities are limited to a 6 by 6 grid with a maximum of five thousands colonists. As structure size is either one or four squares large, you must carefully manage the way you dispose buildings on the map if you don't want to waste space. Fortunately as your technology grows, new buildings will become available with higher performances and reduced size.
As in real life, your colonists won't work forever without entertainment or other activities that take them from their daily routine. If you don't build specific buildings (museums, cultural center or art complexes), their morale will be reduced, diminishing the number of workers, and ultimately causing ravaging riots in the territory. Scandals can also drop their morale such as contacting the Skirineens to buy or sell resources, weapons and technology. A few species are less sensitive to these morale issues than others, but in general high taxes mean unpopularity!
Your expansion will of course at one point interfere with other races. Should you be the aggressor or the attacked, the result is the same, war will be declared between the two races. If you attack first, you will need military units equipped with various weapons to get through the tough defenses of your enemy. Beware that laser defenses, especially when there are several of them together, can be disastrous for your armies. Therefore, some missiles launched at the same time as your attack will be a good idea to reduce your losses. If you prefer a defensive position, you must associate laser or energy defenses with military units to be relatively safe. It is unfortunate though that you can't station as many military units as you want in a single territory. There are restrictive stacking limits that prevent you to gather a large army, and therefore you must combine armies of neighboring territories to launch an attack towards an enemy position. Unlike real time strategy games, combats in Deadlock are managed by the program. This means you can't control units directly, you just move them from one territory to the other and give them special orders and missions. For example, these orders can be to destroy units only, or a certain type of buildings to cut down your enemy's production. Each race has special units that can spy, steal resources and technologies, sabotage, and poison land, giving you many opportunities to hassle your enemies.
Diplomatic relations are not absent in Deadlock, but they are reduced to a list of insults, threats, complaints and brags you can addressed to all other races or just one in particular. There isn't a screen with information about the races with whom you are at war with or a list of your allies, nor details about conflicts between other races. What you get instead are messages from other races, asking for your help, threatening your colony or just asking you to spare them, which makes diplomacy a feature that you don't really use in the game when playing alone versus the computer. This is not the case in a multi-player game where custom messages will be used to talk to your allies and plan mutual strategies against a common enemy. Custom messages also exist in the single player mode, but you might wonder sometimes if your opponents actually understand your messages!
The SVGA graphics featured in Deadlock allow numerous details to be displayed on the screen. From buildings in construction to vehicles moving on the roads and tracks, and combat scenes, it is a real pleasure to see all these animations throughout the game, including video messages featuring 3D computer rendered aliens. Slower machines will prefer to disable animations if they want to keep a good speed. As a matter of fact, I was surprised by the speed of the game. Usually, turn-based strategy games take an increasing amount of time to calculate the enemies moves as you progress in the game. In Deadlock, as soon as you click on the next turn button, you are immediately provided with the latest reports on your colony (eg. newly constructed buildings, military units ready) and battle reports in which you can watch the combats.
As you play with a specific race, graphics and sounds will vary. City Centers, houses and military units will have a completely different look based on respective alien cultures. Voices and soundtracks will also depend on the race you selected, which makes the game a little different each time you play with a new species. Additionally, explosions and screams will be heard during the combats as units fight and battle in the city.
However, in regards to other multi-player games, Deadlock is a step behind, not by the numerous possibilities of connections it offers, but rather by the fact that each player needs a copy of the game in the CD-ROM drive. Still, a multi-player game can be started using only one CD, but other players will have the demo version running instead.
Written by Frederick Claude
Click here for screen shots.
IBM-PC 486 DX2-66 Mhz, Pentium and most compatibles,
Min 8Mb memory,
Windows 3.1, Windows 95, or Windows NT,
Hard drive required with at least 22Mb free,
Double speed CD-ROM drive faster,
SVGA VESA compatible video card,
Microsoft compatible mouse.
All major soundcards supported.
Network play: Modem play, serial connect, Net BNIOS-compatible LAN (NetBIOS for Novell LANs is included), and (for Windows 95 only) Internet play through game services Mplayer and TEN.
Internet Support: Accolade Technical
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