I’m not a big fan of FPSs. I usually play them when I am too bored for something complicated. RTSs, on the other side, although not one of my favorite genres, I play online with my friends every weekend. So, I’m quite familiar with both. When I found Battleswarm: Field of Honor (I’ll just call it Battleswarm from now on), I knew I found the next “victim” of my reviews. It starts from the interesting idea of combining the two genres. Unfortunately, as you shall see, good ideas don’t necessarily mean success.
As you know, there have been attempts to combine shooters and strategies into one game, with various levels of success. The most common problem is that you are either absorbed by the FPS or strategy part that you completely forget about the other, at least in my case. Battleswarm, though, takes another route. Instead of combining it separates. Thus, one game becomes two separate ones. What it means is that there are two factions pinned against each other: humans and bugs (not that original but it works). If you choose to play humans you will have a pure shooter experience or if you like bugs more, you’ll have the chance to command hordes of killing machines from an RTS perspective. So, let’s speak about them, one at a time.
Let’s start with the FPS. This part of the game is as classic as one can get. There are plenty of weapons available from puny pistols and revolvers through machine guns and rifles to flamethrowers, grenades and mines. You can also buy armor and some other items that aid you in killing the bug scourge. For those of you who like to see their character too, there’s a console-like “over the shoulder” cam, though I prefer to meet my enemies up front.
Playing the bugs is a bit different from the classic RTS. First of all, you don’t have any buildings to construct. Everything you need is there. The same goes for resources, nothing needs to be harvested. All the player has to do is create as many troops as possible and send them to wreak havoc. The number of units is impressive ranging from cheap troops meant to be sacrificed to siege bugs or healers. There’s also a commander, stronger than the others and the only one who can capture the flag in CTF games.
Everything looks simple enough. There are 3 main game types (or so I have noticed): one where the humans have to destroy the bug buildings, the other where the bugs have to destroy the human reactor (both in 10 minutes) and of course, Capture-the-Flag. Battleswarm even has missions, simple at first, a bit more complicated later, that reward you with items if successful. There’s one little problem though… almost no one is around to play with. There were days when I tried to play a match and there was literally no one. It is a serious problem that if it is not solved soon, may ruin an otherwise great game.
Both factions have a level system that gives them access to different in-game abilities. Of course there is also money involved, with which items can be bought. But it’s a problem with these items (second big problem after lack of players): anything you buy is time limited, ranging from 7 days to a month, after which it expires. This artificial system seems awkward and brutally cuts the sense of achievement in pieces. And if you take into account that some items are “premium”, so real money need to be spent on them, it’s just not fair.
Graphics and sounds are in my opinion above the average of free MMOs. Considering that the same engine is used for both the shooter part and the strategy one, it is also very scalable and smoothly working with almost no lag (though this may be also due to empty servers).
So, this is how a great idea with a great implementation manages to be a total failure… Don’t take me wrong, Battleswarm is a very good free PC game and I sincerely recommend you playing it. Actually, if enough of you follow my advice one of the problems may be solved – the player base. This way, it will really become fun. Otherwise, you will get bored, especially after some of your items will simply …expire.
by Sicaru Adrian