The Creative Assembly is famous for its Total War franchise spanning centuries of time with critical success. In an attempt to bring RTS’s to consoles while making them more playable, they began work on Stormrise, an RTS that would “Take strategy to new heights”. Now that the game has released, the question is asked, did it? The answer, absolutely not, if anything it shows us how far developers have come to make RTS’s as playable as they are.
Playable is exactly what Stormrise is not. The whip select system the team designed for the game is down right terrible. I can understand how in concept it could seem like it would be a good way for a controller to control things, but in action it simply does not work. You use the controller’s right stick (or the mouse on the PC) to select the unit you want. You can then give orders to that unit specifically. With five or so units it works fine, but once ten or more units are on the screen you lose the ability to pinpoint select units and end up having to filter through your units to finally get the right one. Besides being annoying this makes larger fights almost impossible to micro (or micromanage for those not familiar with the term). There can be several unit icons stacked on the one you want and by the time you get it you’ll most likely have suffered too many casualties forcing you out of battle. Annoyingly are also forced to send in one unit at a time into an area. Usually by the time the second unit has arrived the first is already dead. This makes things very frustrating because it becomes very difficult to launch an offensive or build a suitable defense when your units are being picked off as you send them. The PC version tries to remedy that by allowing you to put units into groups of three, but even then it is still ineffective.
The story had potential. You play as a commander recently awoken from cryo sleep. You join the Echelon, the technologically advanced human faction remaining after “The Event”. You lead them against the Sai, a more beast like side effect of “The Event”. They now control the surface and it is up to you and your men to stop them. It is all vaguely interesting and discovering the secrets behind the event is the only high point of the game. Now I say that the story had potential because no one will play this terrible game.
The graphics are decent, but considering that the game was made to support Direct X 10 and was made for Vista only for that reason, they should look much nicer than they do. Many textures look bland and nothing looks extremely detailed. There is no reason this game shouldn’t run on DX9 or on any decent machine. Even on higher setting there are many lousy textures and an overall sub par look most of the time. The sound is similar as the voice acting is decent at best and the music is alright. Sound effects like gunfire are good enough that you won’t complain, but they are defiantly not the best you’ll hear.
There is a multiplayer feature for Stormrise, but again, no one will play it because the games controls are so terrible. Imagine trying to whip select your units in a competitive match, it would be like playing chess. Each person would move one unit at a time to die and inevitably most people would get frustrated and simply leave the game rather than put themselves through more frustration.
It’s a shame that this game is so lousy; it had so much potential pre-launch. This is why games like this should have a demo or beta. Had there been some way to know how bad this game was going it would either A) Save myself and others from wasting their money, or B) Force the developers to put more effort into actually making the game workable. Do not by any means buy this game. It is a dishonor to the genre and it should not be encouraged. Stormrise manages to stray away from all of the other RTS games out there by quite possibly being the worst among them.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Stormrise will make you appreciate the workable RTS games you own as if they were new again.