Savage 2: A Tortured Soul desperately tries to deliver a new kind of game where real-time strategy and first-person action get it on to provide the ultimate new two-in-one genre combo. Unfortunately, its multi-genre elements don’t always get along, and playing the game will sometimes make you feel like you’re watching your mom and dad fight.
To be fair, Savage 2 has smoothed out a ton of the rough spots since developer, S2 Games took their first stab at creating a Frankenstein game that’s one part RTS and two parts team-based FPS. The basic concept remains the same. Most players handle the role of individual warriors while one player on each side takes on the role of the team’s Commander. Unlike the rest of the grunts on your team duking it out on the frontlines and attacking the enemies’ base, the team’s Commander is responsible for constructing your base structures, and directing your team to victory. Better weapons, new units, and upgrades will become available to your teammates as the Commander keeps busy managing things from above.
Above: If you want to sample Savage’s gameplay free of charge, you can download the full version of the original here or the demo of Savage 2 here
The biggest tweak is to melee combat which now uses a crunchy rock-paper-scissors system for blocking, attacking, or interrupting. A block stops an attack, an interrupt breaks a block, and an attack slices through an interrupt. This interchange makes hand-to-hand combat more enjoyable and the addition of many new special abilities per unit creates a fun, open-ended feeling to combat.
Expect 16 unique classes for your foe-bashing pleasure with two factions: Legion of Man and the Beast Horde. There’s a surprising amount of variety here, though nothing we hadn’t seen before. For example, the Beast Horde’s Shaman is the dutiful healing buffer, Savages are the Human version of a battling tank, and the Beast’s Summoner summons beasts just as you’d expect. But despite the lengthy list of class types, an intriguing little tit for tat combat system, and extra graphical shininess, Savage 2 isn’t without its problems.
Unfortunately, Savage 2 feels disappointingly buggy and laggy despite a recent patch. At one point, we cast a resurrection spell on a nearby teammate which locked our character models together like Siamese twins. Though humorous, it’s the sort of joke that gets old way too fast.
Character skills and the in-game weather cycle add some color and artistic flair to the otherwise drab terrain, while the game’s sound design and music are appropriately atmospheric and appreciably not annoying. The Commander mode is a bit too Spartan and other than casting buffs on your troops, it isn’t very helpful or intuitive. In fact, that lack of intuitiveness could be said about the entire game. There’s definitely some enjoyable substance here, as die-hard Savage fans will attest. But newcomers may feel like they’ve been thrown in the water with no life preserver when trying to figure out how everything works. If anything, Savage 2 leaves us with the distinct impression that perhaps the gaming world just isn’t ready for these two popular genres to join together in holy matrimony.
Jan 29, 2008