Military Madness: Nectaris
Traditional turn-based strategy gaming comes to Xbox LIVE Arcade
Posted 3 years ago By - Curtis McDonald
One of the greatest benefits of the great small game marketplaces like Xbox LIVE Arcade, PSN and WiiWare is the opportunity for developers, big or small, to create games that wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to retail. This is particularly advantageous to those developers who like to focus on niche genres and indeed this is also to the advantage of the fans of such niche genre games. Military Madness: Nectaris is just such a game. It is a traditional turn-based strategy game played out on a hexagonal-tiled map with large number of unit types and all the statistics and probabilities one would expect from such a game. The real question is, is Military Madness: Nectaris worth your (approximately) $10? I’ll give you my take on the game and leave that up to you.
In 2156 the population of the Earth has climbed so high that all criminals are forced into prison colonies on the Moon and in 2169 huge deposits of uranium are found below the surface of the moon and the colonists are forced into hard labour for the ungrateful masses back on Earth. In 2185 the Moon colonists rebel against the vastly outnumbered Union Security Forces that are enforcing Earth’s rule on the Moon’s colonists, who now call themselves Xenos. Finally, in 2187 the Xenos develop a super-weapon that they intend to use on Earth and so the Union Security Forces invade en masse before the Earth is destroyed!
Military Madness: Nectaris sticks to the basics of turn-based strategy gameplay. When it is your turn you select one of your units and move to the desired location, attack an enemy unit, do both or perform a different specialized action depending on the unit selected. Each unit begins as a squad of 8 and squads range from infantry patrols to enormous tanks to heavily armed aircraft. The goal of each map is to either capture the enemy’s base or destroy all of the enemy’s units. Only the infantry units, such as Charlie and Kilroy can capture an enemy base or factory and of course these are the easiest squads to wipe out with even a basic tank squad. The maps are laid out well and create an intelligent dynamic to each level. Terrain also plays a very important role in each battle as bonuses may be applied to squads depending on the type of terrain they are fighting from. A short cut-scene is show for each battle but as they are extremely repetitive most will likely be skipping them after the first couple of levels unless it is to watch a new unit type in action.
The controls are very simple and easy to get the hang of and the tutorials that are accessible for the pause menu are actually quite helpful. The complexity of Military Madness: Nectaris is fairly high for simple XBLA game and this should please fans of the genre. The enemy AI in the campaign is fairly predictable and but will always put up a fair bit of challenge. Unfortunately some of the campaign levels are overly stacked against you and you will spend lots of time restarting these levels.
Multiplayer is available to pit you against the unpredictability of human opponents, unfortunately you will be extremely fortunate to find another player to start a match against.
Graphics and Audio
Military Madness is ugly both in the graphics and the audio department. Not to the extent that it will distract you in any way but it is still disappointing to see even an Arcade game that would have looked and sounded just okay on the original Playstation.
The audio is serviceable and does have a certain military flavour to it but the flavour is heavily contaminated with synth electronica which effectively destroys the military feel to the game.
Military Madness: Nectaris is a game that will require one to be a dedicated fan of the turn-based, hex-board strategy game genre. I am not such a fan. I suspect that those who are could have endless fun battling one another in multiplayer matches and there are a really large number of campaign levels to work through.
I believe Military Madness: Nectaris is an excellent example of a niche genre game that will really appeal to diehard fans of turn-based hex-board strategy fans. The rest of us will probably find the basics of the game, its repetitiveness and substandard graphics and audio to be too big of a turn off to give it any real consideration.