Sunday, October 3, 2010
Game Review: TRIUMPH! WAR 2099 (Action Shooter - PC)
Yep, that's the cover. This game holds a special place in my heart as it's one of the freeware games that I have first downloaded and played. Released by the now defunct (seems like it) indie developer Darksun games, TRIUMPH! WAR 2099 is a top down, squad based, 2D shooter where you fight against hordes of space bugs. This game was definitely inspired by Starship Troopers, and even one of the very few games I consider that got the whole "Space Marines vs Space Bugs" trope spot on.
The first level starts off with your mini space marine guy being dropped off on a battlefield where your fellow comrades are duking it out against the space bug horde called the "Kratte." Once you take control of your dude, you can then issue commands to the rest of your guys that are in the map. In addition, there are power-ups that are scattered across the stage, from giving you reinforcements to different sets of weapons. The first level of this game is pretty straightforward, serving as a testing ground for players to get familiar with the controls and the aspect of issuing commands to your soldiers. However, it's still difficult enough that you can lose this level. HARD difficulty is a totally different story, however.
Make no mistake, TRIUMPH! WAR 2099 is not your typical top down shooting game. The fact that you can issue commands to your squad indicates that there's some degree of strategy involved, and one of the big reasons why it's so fun to play. While the first couple of levels can be finished by going all "Rambo" across the map, the rest will require you think fast, and act fast. The following commands you can issue are: Defend, Attack, Follow, and Normal. It's pretty basic, but it gets the job done as the AI seems to pretty much follow your orders without any hitches. One of the big reasons why you're going to need to use strategy this game is because your life depends on the number of troops in the battlefield. There's a counter in the bottom part of the screen that shows the number of guys you have left. If you die, the counter goes down by 1, if any of your guys die it goes down by 1, and once it gets to zero it's game over. In addition, enemies have power ups, too, in the form of a flower. When a bug comes into contact with this, it becomes a fat bug reminiscent to the brain bug in Starship Troopers. It takes more to kill it, and when it dies, it spawns more normal spider bugs from its carcass. More than one of these fat fuckers will be crawling in each map, so it will be crucial to get to these flowers and "step on it." Without teamwork between you, your pals, and the AI, you will be 100% annihilated.
Speaking of pals, there is coop in this game. Sadly, it is only local coop. Nonetheless, playing this game with your mates is one of the most fun gaming related memories I have. You can have up to four players, and each guy your buddies use can also make orders. Though, since it's local coop, you're gonna need several USB controllers so your friends can play. If only the guy(s) over at Darksungames can come back and give this game an update.
Depending on what difficulty you're on, a single playthrough of this game can take a couple of hours, even more when you're in HARD. Each mission is varied enough that it will barely reach the point it gets repetitive. That one mission where your guys are stuck defending an outpost against waves and waves of bugs is definitely the most fun part of the game that I can remember. As you issue orders to the rest of your squad, the enemy horde slowly tears away at your building's walls, and if you're not fast enough, you'll soon be left with you and your guys wide in the open for the slaughter. There are other fantastic moments in that game, but that one really stands out as I'm a sucker for "hold the fort" parts in my games and movies.
The visuals are pretty decent, with well crafted 2D sprites, this game stands the test of time even after being released back in 2001. Despite having no variety in between your character and your dudes, resulting in confusion in some cases, and enemies being only two types - normal and fat, the variety in each level make up for it. There will be a level when you're in a facility that's been run down by the Kratte, and there will be no instance where you'll say that this just looks like the previous stage.
While this game is brimming with positives, there are still some moments where the game gets frustrating. There will be times where enemy bugs would spawn right next to you and your mates, which often results in death, though those times make sense in context with the level seeing as you are fighting in their lair after all. Another annoyance which was already touched upon was there's barely any distinction between your character and the rest of your squad. When you get to the point you have reached the maximum number of troops you can have in the field, and you have somehow kept your eye out of your dude, it might take a second or two to find him again amongst the masses. That one second might be vital, and if an enemy spawns right next to you, you're dead. While those are the only negatives I can see, it seems like they are only very minor annoyances, and is no way detrimental to your enjoyment of this very fantastic game.
+ Addicting gameplay
+ Requires strategy for a straight up shooter
+ Coop is very, very, very fun
+ Variety in each level
+ Decent length
- Might be difficult to distinguish player from fellow NPC's.
TRIUMPH! WAR 2099 deserves a score of 8.0/10 in my book, if I put my nostalgia glasses on, we'll have to make that a 9.0/10.
So, if you guys loved Starship Troopers and old school arcade action shooting games, then I highly recommend you try this out. Here's a link where I was able to find a working copy here. This game is almost 10 years old, it's surprising it's still compatible with new OS'.
My only lament is the creator of this game has been no longer active for years. I wish him safety and good luck to where ever he is, as well as a thank you for making a very fun game.