October 05, 2007
Large, muscular men make great armies. So do all varieties of medieval humanoid, especially if they're vision-cloudingly ugly (orcs, ogres) or eyeball-shatteringly beautiful (elves). Zombies and insectoid aliens are right up there. Even huge platoons of robots with large guns will get the job done, provided they weren't designed by George Lucas with the purpose of making floppy-eared aliens with muppet voices look like highly trained infantry. Oh, and so do magical squirrels and beavers.
What? Beavers? Squirrels? Yep. At least, in the world according to Eco Creatures: Save the Forest. It casts you as Dorian, a sort of shambling, furry, pineapple-yellow thing charged with protecting a forest from the polluting, clear-cutting forces of industry. Which, in true gaming fashion, you do by commanding a horde of Pokemon-colored squirrels, beavers, and flying squirrels to destroy things like robots and living tar pits with giant fists.
Man, this game looks fun.
There are 3 basic classes of critter for you to command: Ecoby (beavers), Ecolis (squirrels), and Ecomon (flying squirrels). Every class has unique skills: Ecoby can build dams, Ecolis can swim and plant trees that generate mana for your attack spells (lightning bolts, rain storms, etc) and Ecomon can fly and carry items.
And because each type levels up and evolves, Pokemon-style into different variations of itself, you'll end up choosing from a pool of not three, but 16 different types of fuzzy warrior, each with slightly different powers and personalities.
Gameplay itself is split. There are roughly 40 battle missions in which you'll lead as many as three armies of 30 critters each into real-time battles, sending them to grab mana, rearrange the battlefield, or just stomp on the faces of your foes. Between battles, you'll spend time nurturing your creatures - for instance, a certain critter requested some quality time with us, so we went for a walk. On the way, we encountered a strange creature, and when asked what to do about it, chose to dance in order to reassure it. It decided to bust a groove right along with us and joined our army.
Clearly, this is a one-of-a-kind game. We'll get the chance to see for ourselves in March 2008.