Tried out Wildfire Games’ open source RTS game 0 AD yesterday, and came out with mixed feelings. 0 AD is a quasi-historical RTS, with gameplay modeled after the blockbuster Age of Empires and Age of Mythology series, with some major improvements.
First improvement to appeal to me: more playable factions! 0 AD is set in the Classical era of history, and lets you play as the Romans, splits the Greeks into Athenians and Spartans, Carthaginians, Britons, Gauls, Persians (Achaemenid I believe), Iberians, even the Mauryan Empire. Woot!
Second improvement: tough AI. Since I play in short bursts and at odd, unpredictable hours, I’m not one for online play (In other words, I play to take a break, when I want a break). A fun AI opponent is thus a nice bonus. Along with this I have to cite the cool gameplay improvements. Among them, the idea of citizen-soldiers.
All civilizations have worker-only units, but most infantry units can also do gathering and construction work. This not only feels more realistic – many of Rome’s mightiest engineering feats were built by the legions – but also adds a nice fillip to your strategizing. You can have a bigger army by making less workers and more soldiers, assigning the soldiers to economic tasks, but with two disadvantages – your forces get scattered, and when you’re at war production takes a drastic drop. If you rely on citizen-soldiers for your economy, you can’t campaign for too long with concentrated forces.
Again, it’s a better simulation, but yowch. I’ve partly gotten around by doing as the Romans did, assigning tasks to command groups so at least I can quickly rally and direct the troops when they’re needed.
Third improvement: oh gawd, the graphics! I really have to hand it to the development team, this game is gorgeous. But don’t let me tell you – take a gander at the screenshots and decide for yourself!
The good: this is a game you can definitely spend hours on. The bad: it’s still in alpha development stage, and on my Dell XPS it keeps crashing. But the game is so promising, I’m keeping an eye on its development so I can get the next stable release.