With the introduction of children and the real time strain on my personal time and resource, it’s been more than a while since I’ve been able to sit down to what was my favourite genre of gaming – the RTS. A Youtube link or two later and I may have found what’s been missing presumed, K.I.A for many a year. 8 – Bit Armies is here, Old Skool Command and Conquer with a Vanilla twist, a colourful blocky voxel design dressed in a Crossy Road styled skin.
Developed by Petroglyth the DNA is immediately apparent from the basic tutorial, these guys worked on C&C & Dune II within Westwood Studios which give them legendary status in my eyes.
Anyone schooled within the Brotherhood of Nod will feel instantly familiar with the setup,
The main objective is to wipe out the other armies, from the start build a HQ and a closely placed refinery, collect resource through joyously bouncing oil trucks harvesting from fixed placed oil fields, and accumulating the $ to finance your armed force. Barracks generates infantry soldiers, rocket firing meat-bags and unarmed mechanics to repair your Jeeps and tanks which are available once you’ve afforded a motor pool and a tech lab which ultimately give you access to a nuke. From these structures you can stack builds like they do at the Honda Factory and line them up ready to take up offensive positions, in case you are on the back foot defensive turrets can be built positioned local to your structures too. All units and structures have a bar which shows their status, from a happy green to an unhealthy blood red, with the units I would have like to have seen some promotion system for collecting kills but as it stands there’s no benefit for a kill streak, and it’s far easier just to replace and spam more units.
8-Bit Armies currently has one single faction so there’s no rock paper scissors style mechanic and therefore strategy’s to apply other than rush, one team’s tanks are not superior nor move quicker or heals differently, superiority falls down to strength in numbers. With teary eyes there’s no Tayna destroying buildings and providing any form of eye candy, not that it would probably translate well with a voxel cleavage.
The only real tactic is using elevation within the map to gain an advantage where your opponent cannot fire or see you if they are below you, the terrain has slight variations which allow for this but then also has volcano’s and rivers of lava which add nothing to your strategy or game style as your infantry can just sit there chilling instead of melting to death.
Infantry, as well as harvesters, have questionable AI on their movement, either that or their Sat-Navs have a death wish, taking the shortest route possible to get to their destination even if that means cruising through down-town Baghdad. As for the infantry, they’re happy to Lemming their way into oncoming tanks, which sadly doesn’t bring the satisfying “Wicket Wicket” noise that came with a C&C kill roadkill. The sound track is decent enough, and the electronic vocals of when your base is being attacked do echo the Red Alert series.
The colour and style of the graphics is very bold and friendly and appealing, even as much as my 7 year old enjoyed it which in some way is down to the style, although his interest dipped as the difficulty level spiked during the campaign mode but the early missions made easily accessible for the casual gamer or those who were born as late as 2008…
Currently, the game is missing the depth and grand scale of the genre defining legend it is based on, there are no hammy acted cut scenes, there are 25 single player missions which get progressively more tricky over 10 different maps, mostly described over 2 paragraphs in an attempt to put a motive to you no surrender warpath. Each one has 3 difficulty levels in addition to a 3-star rating, 1st is usually your main objective, 2nd completing with a handicap, for example without using certain equipment and the 3rd is the first two but with an added strict time limit. The time limit option benefits to hone your skills for the multiplayer element, where adding a human adversary requires you to pick up the skills of a clicker hero, creating units faster to rush or be rushed.
Finishing a mission gave off the rather confusing “the winner is you” message, which read like something that had been translated into Japanese and then translated back into English after taking a one night stay in Vietnam.
You are then shown the stats page which shows how you fared in kills / deaths buildings built and confusingly lists your AI armies using names such as Nigel and Derrick, which removes you from the original light storyline attached to the mission.
I rate 8 – Bit Armies a 7 out of 10, it’s fun and great value for money coming in currently at £11, and it’s likely to show up on a steam sale or 2 down the line, 8 Bit Armies has brought back lost memories of Tiberium gathering and recreating a basic base building RTS which seemed to have died for me at the release of C&C Generals, I’d also like to mention the patching and updates which have been plentiful since release and I hope continue to build and add more meat to one of my favourite bones, upon writing it looks like they are reviewing the Harvesters movement so they are taking on board feedback which can only be a good thing, in contrast to that it does feel like it is should have been Early Access, there is content here, but some of the polish like the bizarre statement and low detailed mission brief suggests there’s more work to be done.
Brings back nostalgic memories of youth
graphic style works and the colours are bright and bold
quick pick up and play RTS
limited RTS setup which doesn’t build & expand on the classic it is based on
No real storyline to follow
One tactic to rule them all
Score: 7 out of 10.