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Review: Rage of Storms

Although German developers ‘Publisher Worldwidegames’ (terrible name guys) announced an open beta almost a year ago, Rage of Storms hadn’t caught my eye until two weeks ago, when my German roommate Ronnie’s laptop was open to an awesome looking war game. “What’s the game, bra?!” I asked, and when he retorted “It’s Rage, freund!” I knew it was time to take a closer look and write a review. Let’s do it, yeah? This is Rage of Storms.

The funny thing about this game is that, according to Ronnie, an avid FPS gamer, it needs to be played in German to fully appreciate the storytelling and description components. In this vein, I sat down with Ronnie for several hours over the course of several days and played with him in German, while he described to me everything I was reading and hearing. So this review is brought to you, in part, by Ronnie. Danke, dude!

Set in the near future (about 12 years in the future to be exact), Rage of Storms initially floored me with its great graphics and very realistic war-like grit regarding its mise-en-scene (stylistic cues and authentic on-screen details). Rage takes you deep into the bowels of Rakistan (think of it as a fictitious version of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia). Hot, dry and rich in oil. Earth’s hunger for oil has reached all-time highs, while the globe gets warmer and warmer. Political? Hell yes it is. Satirical? Hell yes it is. It’s funny because it’s true! Ahem. The wealthiest nations in the world are all racing to exploit the final reserves of natural oil and it’s up to the player to win that battle – the Rage of Storms.

WWG developers actually took into account the bulk of player feedback, praise and criticism which apparently all made it into the final cut of the game, says Achim Heidlauf of WWG. “We did not wipe out data recorded along with the testing, and we made proper adjustments according to the feedback… I am looking forward to exciting campaigns with thousands of players in the world of Rakistan. ” I’ll be the judge of that Achim. In actuality, much of his confidence is totally founded and justified. This game kicks ass.

Rage opens up with a tutorial requiring players to establish a controlled military base in the vast and treacherous outcroppings of the sands of Rakistan (creative name). The oil in the Rakistan region is under seige – your job is to secure it for your own nation. There is free allocation of construction sites and variable build-construction stages throughout your outcropping in Rakistan, much like other OSGs, however these factors all conspire in your favor (should you keep your supplies and resources plenty and abundant).

To actually push around your troops, build structures and boost your resource levels, something called a ‘hex-map’ must be used. This is essentially a six-sided set of hexagonal units in a grid patterned map that can be a bit confusing to use – and impossible to understand if you don’t speak German (thanks Ronnie). This is my major complaint about the game, but more on this later. The player has to navigate his armies on the hex-map and explore seemingly-neverending desert landscapes to exploit the random oil reserves contained within. The saving grace to the hex-map is that this method executes commands in real time, so there is no waiting for commands to be engaged like in other online strategy games *cough*Grepolis!*cough*.

Through oil research, scientist input and mined data your force can stay competitive with the other militias and armies fighting for oil: nothing can be extracted without a high enough level of scientific research and technological innovation (you can’t expand without the knowhow). Your time will be spent getting an analysis of soil quality, density, things like this which will boost the amount of oil you can take for yourself which will improve your rank steadily.

Combined with desert storms, air pollution and of course enemy intervention, Rakistan is a super-treacherous place to be doing business. After a few days of getting used to what I would be facing (re: enemy forces, how to actually fight with the Hex Map in real time, mining resources to build scientific resources to mine more oil), I hit a pretty steady rhythm of research-offensive action-drilling for oil-rank growth-expansion after maybe 10 hours of gameplay. Black markets will throw you for a loop and can decimate your anticipated oil sale price when thieves or other oil-laden individuals sell and drive prices down.

The cool thing is that you actually can ally with other online militias and armies and commiserate on offensive strategies to take down a mutual enemy and purloin the oily vestiges. I didn’t actually do this on the account I created to review this game but Ronnie informs me it’s quite easy to strike a dialogue and devise strategy with a newly made ally. The game follows a similar pattern of devising a forces to rack up resources, but the stage on which it’s set kept me interested. After setting up my base in Rakistan and fleshing out my forces, I really did feel like I was controlling an ally army in Saudi Arabia fighting to (essentially) fill up my Hummer H2 back home! As mentioned, the game’s graphic layout is very easy to understand (as long as you can read the language) and icons / image sets are richly detailed. Bravo, devs.  If you’re drawn to war scenarios and natural resource-centric OSGs, you’ll likely spend hours with this one.

                                                      

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