KingIsaacLinksr
Timothy Wetzel   Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
 
 
A Paladin Without A Crusade...

I'm KingIsaacLinksr, reviewer with a sense of justice.

I talk about game mechanics, PC relevant settings, business models personal thoughts and more in very great detail.

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I focus on Indie titles with a few AAA games. I look at business practices, DRM, PC settings and more. Once I've got a good feeling for the game and/or completed it, I'll give a very in-depth and lengthy review on it. Said reviews are usually months or years after release. I don't go for day one or week one reviews. Instead, I prefer to take my time and enjoy both the game and the process of creating the review. I think that makes my reviews stronger in the long run. Plus, the day/week one review market is extremely over-saturated. I write for those of us who aren't day one purchasers. If any of this interests you, consider following me as I explore this interactive medium.

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[h1]A Paladin’s Review: AI War: Fleet Command. You ARE Outgunned. You ARE Massively Outnumbered. You MUST Read This Review or Else Be Crushed By The AI.[/h1]
[list]
[*]Genre: Real Time Strategy Game With Elements of Tower Defense, Heroic Units and 4X Gameplay.
[*]Developed & Published by: Arcen Games
[*]Platform: Windows, Mac OS and Linux
[*]Business Model: Single Purchase With Six Optional Expansions.
[*] Base Game and Expansions Acquired by Myself, Friends and Free Press Keys from Arcen Games
[/list]
https://youtu.be/hvt33Bzucqs
Read the full review on A Paladin Without A Crusade [wp.me]

Initial Overall Thoughts
This review will not cover everything about AI War: Fleet Command (though I’ll certainly try to). It’s an RTS that has a lot of complex mechanics both visible to the player and hidden behind the scenes. Plus, every experience of AI War is going to be different. When you first jump into the game, the initial lobby will present you with a wide variety of options to choose from (depending on which expansions you have installed/enabled) including how many planets there are, how fast the game is played at, how complex the ship selection will be, what rogue/neutral factions will you enable, settings to make the game easier/harder and so forth. There is simply no way for a single reviewer to cover everything and every playstyle. I will do my best to cover my experiences and what you can generally expect to experience yourself. Outside of that, well, I only have so much time and words to cover it all. It’s both the strength and difficulty of AI War that it’s as flexible as it currently is.

Its got a steep learning curve that will take a significant investment in time to learn the mechanics, even for experienced strategy game players. I say this as a caution that this isn’t simply a game you can pick up and go and expect immediate success. Some have compared this to being the Dwarf Fortress of RTSes and its not entirely unfair in that regard. (Though the interface is far easier to figure out). The interface can be tricky to figure out where everything is, there’s a sheer amount of content that is randomly generated and can be at play in any session and the AI can be tricky to take on. The tutorial tries its best to introduce players to the game but its not quite enough in my opinion. There are several options though outside of just watching videos including flying along with other players with a champion ship from the fourth expansion to setting the game at its basic default options and toning down the difficulty of the AI. Additionally, the Arcen forums are filled with plenty of people willing to answer questions and join your game as well as a pretty well detailed wiki to parse through.

AIW is a complex mix of 4X and real time strategy. It’s a unique game that few other developers have tried to imitate. It can be played solo or up to 8 players with the ability for players to drop in and out if they wish. Matches are handled through direct peer-to-peer connections so you will need to open a port in your router or play over LAN in order to host games. While lag is certainly a concern with an RTS like this one, you can adjust the network latency to compensate for slow or widespread connections. When playing with other players, the AI will adapt with larger fleets to compensate for the amount of firepower the additional players can wield. Resources aren’t shared between players so each one will have to have systems of their own to generate income. That being said, ships, minerals and structures can be given to other players. So, it’s definitely multiplayer friendly and I generally encourage it just for the sheer joy of sharing the experience but it’s not necessary to beat a session. Each session will take around 10-20 hours on default game settings but your playtime will vary wildly depending on everything chosen in the in-game lobby and how much success/failure you experience at the hand of the AI.

Strategy Examination
This game is largely about being tactical in terms of the macro or big picture rather than overly micro heavy when it comes to moving and engaging with your fleets. You can be micro-intensive if you want, the game does support that to a degree. But when you’re running around fighting with large fleets, micromanaging your units will be more draining than its really worth. This is dictated in much of the game design including resource management, setting your fleets to patrol routes, infinite building queues, automatic actions in the settings menu and such. Its about positioning your fleets in the right place at the right time, engaging as effectively as possible and avoiding losses when possible in addition to deciding how your planet defenses should be setup. Everything else from repairing ships, rebuilding defenses will be automatically handled by the game. So, focus on avoiding shoving your fighters at a mostly missile frigate fleet, trying to take down buildings with just fighters and so on. Certain systems you invade will also have structures that respond to a giant blob attack with a vicious response ranging from another fleet warp-in to nuking the whole system. Plus, losing too many ships in an AI system will cause a counter response to flung your way. It’s not to say that you can’t just blob the AI to death in this game (though good luck with that), it’s just going to come at higher and higher costs.

Final Thoughts
AI War wants you to focus more on the big picture by which systems you’ll take next, what planets need defending, where should ships be positioned at and what’s more important to value. It doesn’t want you focusing on the smallest details or hitting the buttons at the right time in quick succession over a long period of time. Fleet Command is its primary goal, a goal that it has most definitely succeeded at achieving. The strategic depth, the sheer amount of content, unpredictable AI and enjoyable mechanics are the reasons I keep coming back to this game. A voiced AI that is clever and constantly dismissive of you both in small victories and defeat. There’s so much I haven’t talked about like supply, nuclear weapons, mobile builders, black hole machines, the various types of maps that you can experience, what each individual ship does, the content there is to discover and so much more. That is part of the wonder about AIW that every session can feel like a new one because there’s always something different to encounter. Especially when this game was in its prime and getting regular updates and features added in. It’s not a perfect game by any stretch though. It has a massive learning curve that can be daunting to new players, the UI is functional and readable but can be overwhelming or difficult to navigate and games can drag on depending on how unkind the RNG is to you. AIW does its best to give players the tools to avoid the grind though but there’s only so much it can do.

AI War: Fleet Command secures a place as my favorite non-traditional RTS of all time. ~250 hours in AI War also makes it one of my top played games of all time. Its a game I’ve loved to lose at. Its a game I highly recommend to those interested in this genre and I think that, despite some of its flaws, it’s well worth playing. Plus, the music is awesome! Sure, AI War 2 will be coming out in the near future and I have no doubt that Arcen will do justice by the sequel. As much as I’m looking forward to AI War 2, I feel a bit of melancholy about AI War: Fleet Command development coming to an end. But regardless of what happens, I believe that AI War 1 will still be worth playing in 10, 20 or 50 years.

[h1] Read this review and more strategy reviews on A Paladin Without A Crusade [wp.me][/h1]
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Trilly D Dec 4, 2014 @ 12:14pm 
Another year has passed my friend! Happy to see you in great health! Keep up your great reviews :)
siegarettes Dec 3, 2013 @ 2:59pm 
I'm probably going to try to do a review for every one of my games as well.
siegarettes Dec 2, 2013 @ 12:54pm 
You have a massive amount of reviews, sir.
Guard13007 Oct 7, 2012 @ 2:03pm 
I keep getting invited to Korean or German or *insert other language* groups, or groups specifically about a game I don't own. xD So yeah, I know what you mean.
Guard13007 Oct 6, 2012 @ 10:31pm 
Sorry if the random invite comes off as spam... Cheers... *feels awkward, so I'll just fall off this cliff here, bye*
Mana Jul 17, 2012 @ 4:08pm 
Crowded? Oh, right.