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As the title suggests, NetStorm was created for multi-player gaming. The result is a rather weak one-player game compensated for by all out wars between up to eight players online. Though the graphics and sounds won't catch anyone's eye, NetStorm's unique take on the real-time strategy genre is very fresh and tons of fun. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but NetStorm is a great break for anyone tired of playing the most recent Red Alert clone.
The basic point in either the single or multi-player games is to capture enemy priests and sacrifice them to the Furies. In single player games, this marks the end of the mission, but in multi-player, it gives the player new skills. Each player starts out on an island in the sky at the beginning of each game, and chooses to align with the Wind, Rain, or Thunder Fury. They must build bridges out of Tetris-like pieces to connect to other islands, as well as the Storm Geysers, which give players Storm Power, the money of the game. Either on the islands or connected to the bridges, immobile units can be placed to fight off the enemy.
The only units that are moveable in NetStorm are the priests, varied collectors of Storm Power, and uncontrolled flying units. Strategy is not creating a ton of units and shipping them off to an enemy base like other games out there, but rather slowly expanding towards enemy islands. These units all have different distances and angles of attack, as well as strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the crossbow is very powerful, but can only fire in a 120-degree arc, whereas the sun disc thrower is weak and has limited range, but is capable of attacking in a 360-degree field. Different units offset each other, and combinations of units are stronger than just multiples of them same. Splash damage occurs as well, which means separation of units is a necessity. NetStorm rewards aggressive players by giving them variable Storm Power for destroying units.
After overpowering the enemy, the player has a chance to shoot and immobilize the vulnerable priest. Once this is done, the priest is taken back to an island under the player's control by a Storm Power collector and sacrificed on an alter by the player's priest. Each sacrifice means moving up a level and gaining a new power. When choosing games online, this helps create a balance between players, as the battlemaster has the right to kick anyone off. Similar ranks end up playing each other, which means a good time for all.
In the end, NetStorm is a great multi-player experience. There is plenty of totally new strategy here, with a plethora of different attacking, collecting, and blocking units, as well as spells, alliances, and completely unique game play. Playing games in the higher ranks requires an almost completely different strategy than in the lower ranks, which helps keep players hooked. Things often get a bit stuffy with eight players on one map, as it becomes a serious pain to attempt to attack someone on the opposite side. Space becomes very clogged, which often makes well-routed bridges more important than tons of Storm Power. Bigger maps would have been nice, but that would have made separation of the players too great. Games run long, often an hour or more. Almost no LAG is present though, which helps the time fly by.
Overall, NetStorm is a good deal of fun, and is different from anything else out there. It may not overpower anyone with outstanding graphics or sound, but the engine pushes tons of units on-screen at once. For any online gaming, real-time strategy addicts out there, NetStorm is a must.
Written by Andrew Phelan
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100% Microsoft Windows 95 compatible computer system (including compatible
32-bit drivers for CD-ROM drive, video card, sound card and input devices),
100% 14.4Kbps Windows 95 compatible modem,
Web site: Titanic Entertainment
PublishersIn North America:
Activision Europe Ltd.,
Web site: Ubi SoftIn Australia and Pacific Rim: