Posted: June 2
This game is not fair. From the first second of any game, until (in most games) the last stages of the game, the AI possesses sufficient firepower to obliterate your insignificant rebellion without really stretching. In this repect, most games of AI War are a wonderful breath of fearful concern. Always looking over your shoulder. Always trying to avoid annoying the AI too much. Always treading softly, while carrying the biggest gun (indeed every gun) you can find.
Let's be clear; if you're looking for a game that holds your hand through a linear, scripted campaign, this is not the game for you.
If you want a game based on systems that will push you to find the most underhand and exploitative responses you can to the challenges it throws at you, look no further.
This game is stupendously configurable in its setup, which can be somewhat overwhelming when you first start, but makes for an extraordinarily replayable game, even more so with the expansions, rich in choices, threats and options. If you so choose, you can take a nominally hard setup (two twin-"hard" AI types at high level) and give yourself several "helping hands". You can choose an easy setup of two easy AI types at a low level and then click every extra challenge on. And everything is good fun. Really. There are even multiple ways to win a game, based on the setup choices you made for each game and the choices you make while playing each game.
At easier difficulties, you wont find the game too punishing, but as the difficulty levels go up, so do your challenges. To beat level 9 AIs, you'll need to be exploiting weaknesses mercilessly. You'll need to be imaginative and ruthless in how you knock out the obstacles in your path. If you are not willing to min/max your odds and use every cheesy trick you can find, you'll likely find it unbeatable. And at the maximum difficulty settings...?
This is a game made by developers that treat "impossible" as a real thing, not just a cool-sounding label. If you beat level 10 AIs without spamming helpful setup options, this is a bug. They'll want to know how you did it, they'll congratulate you, and then they'll tweak a few things in a patch so it won't work again. If you really do want to win on your first playthrough, play at a lower difficulty level. If you really insist on always winning, don't play at the highest difficulties. And that's okay because it's still enormously fun at the mid difficulties. But you'll always find yourself pushing to win on a more difficult map-type. Against a more challenging AI type. Against a higher AI level. With some devious or vicious sub-plot turned on. With some hellish combination of AI sub-types. There's always something else to try, there's always something else to lose against.
10/10 - Would doom humanity to an eternity of enslavement by forgetting to rebuild my forcefields again. And again.