Yes it’s a game on OnLive, so you must pay for it, yes it’s a persistent online multiplayer RTS and RTS games aren’t hugely available on OnLive (and that’s why I wanted to write this article), but for piss sakes, the setting is in a post apocalyptic world. Yurghghhhhh!! Let’s hope the pros outweigh this huge con.
For those of you who enjoy RTS games but want a little more once in a while, this game provides some FPS elements, strange as that may feel for RTS lovers. You can do some of the actions that FPS are known for, which include going prone, taking cover, and picking up ammo from dudes you just shot down. Sorry, no scavenger perk in this game. But why worry about that when there are games that feature up to 32 players? There’s plenty of loot from corpses to go around. if you dislike getting owned by human opponents, there’s AI controlled single player and co-op mode.
Since OnLive relies on online, you can also expect matchmaking, clans, excessive stat tracking, the whole shebang. The services cater to a system that offers unique resources and large online battles, which should satisfy the stomach of strategy gamers. The resources you grab during a match are taken from salvage yards and used to make buildings, and it helps more if you capture ammo depots. Gas is used plenty so refineries and gas stations must be held to keep supplies rationed out. One of the more interesting strategy features is destroying enemy units that are carrying metal: you can then take the metal for yourself and bring it home. Of course this also means that you would be open to attack, so be weary of an ambush or a decoy metal carrying unit. The painful side of unique resources is that you can easily run out of ammo or gas en route to a powerful offense. It is imperative to keep a watchful eye of your resources at all times. Resources and the units that manage units and buildings need not just be watched for supply issues, but if a building has just one man powering it, the building will stop producing if the unit is killed. That said, this game is leaning more towards victory decided by resources. If online, you must make sure your allies are fully aware of this!
I just hope co-op mode has some communication tools. Some games (and I’m not even talking about RTS) are just terrible with co-op. Modern Warfare 3 comes to mind. On a side note, good luck finding a good co-op partner (yes I’m burned out on bad co-op experiences). I mean, you would think 2 people versus computer opponents in a survival mode match would be easier than going against live human opponents right? Turns out that’s not exactly the case (and if you would post about that in comments, I’d LOVE to read about it). But I digress. Even though this is a big online system, you can also play in offline mode. Indirectly, that’s saying this game won’t nail you on the wall too hard in the DRM department, and that is a plus. However, it doesn’t go far enough.
Quoting “The Big DRM List”:
APOX: Proprietary server connection. There is no authentication, but a constant Internet connection is required for anything other than campaign, skirmish and tutorial.
The description could be incorrect as users are required to be online for the single player campaign, at least for an initial setup, if playing Steam version. Will OnLive force the same DRM? Most likely so. Over at APOX forums, user Mark had this to say:
“We dont have any authentication servers. We do have a server making your account. This is a one time step where you choose your in-game name. If you cannot connect to one of the three account servers, then maybe something is wrong with your computer — could be the networking setup, firewall, anti-virus, or malware. I posted a possible solution to your problem in another thread you started.
About being online. Our game is using a client/server architecture. I wouldn’t exactly call it DRM, but yeah I guess the effect is the same. We thought most people would be ok for all games to be online. We are trying to grow the online community and promote people playing co-op and pvp. At one point during the beta, we made it so that single player users are listed in the lobby with everyone else. This makes the lobby seem more alive. Also you can send msgs to these players and ask them to join you co-op or pvp game. Another thing is that having all games be online makes it harder to cheat with stats and achievements.
We have gotten some complaints about this. We are thinking over the options.”
So the devs intentionally placed a DRM-like system to push co-op and pvp? What is the bloody point in offering offline options if you’re going to blatantly push other features? Here’s an idea: how about letting gamers do what they want?
It is no surprise the devs chose an online-centric service such as OnLive: it caters to their and it probably provides an excuse to keep the DRM-like system. On the flip side, you could understand what they want to prevent. Unfortunately, pushing players is the lazy and unprofessional way to do it. That said, the actual game is decent, however I had to focus a bit on the DRM issue. Why? You don’t see enough of it in media outlets.