Maelstrom review

  • Hai-genti aliens
  • Skirmish mode is great
  • Not too formulaic
  • Filled with clichéd missions
  • Too timid
  • AI cheats often in Skirmish mode
Long past the time when most sensible gamers would have beaten a path back to Supreme Commander, Rise of Legends and Dawn of War, a modicum of excitement and originality finally shows-up in the wobbly bio-form of the Hai-Genti. Rock-pool aliens with abundant limbs and a penchant for H2O, they are just about weird and violent enough to distract you from the secondhand mission plots and the various AI and command-and-control deficiencies. Yes, Maelstrom manages to botch some crucial fundamentals. We’ve seen pollen-drunk bees navigate greenhouses more skillfully than some of the units in this game and how they path find their way from base to front. The lack of formations and the awkward squad creation system add to the chaos of battle in the same way that dead flies add to the protein content of soup.

Instead of concentrating on getting the basics right, KDV seems to have lavished a lot of energy on unusual but ultimately irrelevant content. The tactical terra-forming that was such an ingenious aspect of their last creation (Perimeter) is too fiddly and slow to be enticing in this context. Even the campaign designers seem to ignore it. It’s a similar story with the third-person hero control. Where in Rise & Fall there were good reasons to possess your protagonists, here direct control does little but expose AI shortcomings. Spending 15 minutes sniping dunderheaded hostiles from beyond their detection ranges isn’t much fun.

The best way to play Maelstrom is via the skirmish mode. Though the AI cheats like Terry Thomas at advanced level (the only worthwhile setting) and control of game parameters is limited, you are guaranteed a challenge and unrestricted armory access. You don’t have to worry about the action being interrupted by awful cutscenes or failure-triggering hero deaths either.

More Info

Release date: Feb 20 2007 - PC (US)
Sep 30 2006 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: KDV Games
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Blood and Gore, Mild Violence


Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000