PC Review: Stormrise

Chase the storm or run the hell away from it? Let’s see…

Stormrise is a post apocalyptic real-time strategy game from Creative Assembly, the makers of Medieval II: Total War. Two warring factions arise from the rubble: the Echelon, a technologically advanced race that endured the planet’s fallout by way of self-induced hibernation, and the Sai, a tribal society that adapted to the new apocalyptic environment and evolved over time. Players can command units in the air, across rooftops, on the earth’s surface and even underground; this unique idea of “verticality” introduces multiple layers of gameplay that must be mastered for strategic advantage. The experience is heightened by a simple yet effective control system tailored specifically for consoles, which allows easy unit selection, rapid navigation and precise deployment.
It takes a lot to get the balance of an RTS right. A good mixture of units, being able to move and select things easily and so that one side doesn’t overpower the other. All of these are pretty much standard things that each RTS should strive to accomplish; I only wish I could say that Stormrise does. It’s one of the oddest RTS games that I’ve come across, mainly because of some idiot decisions that ultimately hold it back from competing with the likes of Command and Conquer.etc

The game doesn’t play like a typical RTS. You take control over one unit at a time and switch between them using the right mouse button. You can’t simply move the camera away from the unit and select multiple contacts to engage in battle. You can’t even really move the camera full-stop, navigation is a complete pain. It’s just a complete mess; all I did was wait for waypoints to come up on the screen then right-clicked on it for my units to advance. That’s about all there is to do in Stormrise, I just don’t get why it doesn’t allow you free roam of the camera. Instead they just expect you to send in one bunch of units at a time then right-click and highlight a symbol to switch to another set of units.

Stormrise’s story seems relevant today, what with all the concern over global warming. It isn’t the most original or engaging story, but it does a fairly good job in giving you a good enough reason to play…then you start and realise that it just isn’t worth it.
Even the first few levels do little to make you want to play it. I don’t understand why you can’t just select all your units and advance to your target, instead of doing it one at a time. It makes absolutely no sense at all. Instead they give you an option to command units remotely, so if you want to move a unit to your location you have to hover the cursor over the icon of the unit you wish to call to you, hold Shift and tap the right mouse button. You can assign units to numbers for quick access, but it’s still a mind-boggling choice. I just don’t get why the camera is fixated on the unit you control instead of most RTS where it’s zoomed out so you can select as many as you want without all this going back and forth nonsense.

Another interesting thing is that the PC version is only playable on Windows Vista SP 1. So tough luck to XP owners, but I really don’t understand why it’s only for Vista…yes it does offer DX10 support, but really I didn’t notice that the graphics or framerate were that good, it looked a bit dated if you ask me. The game requires such high specs that don’t really make good use of the hardware, I wonder why that is. My machine is pretty damn powerful and on the highest settings possible, the game still looks pretty bad…why? If there’s DX10 support there, it should look great…right? Apparently not.
Voice-acting is incredibly cheesy and adds to the overall disappointment of Stormrise. It’s just an average game, there’s nothing stellar about it. Sure it has multiplayer which adds a bit of enjoyment, but it’s ultimately not enough to make up for the silly choices the team has made which hold the game back. It’s a shame because underneath it all, I can see the potential and the idea of it very well, unfortunately it just wasn’t executed very well.

The Verdict

Stormrise will disappoint fans of Medieval II: Total War. It lacks anything special and makes some ridiculous control and camera decisions that ultimately ruin the game for everyone. Also, why does the game require such high system requirements if it doesn’t use them well?