Stormrise - hands-on

Finally in our sneak peek we saw what looked like an over-developed drag strip: a long single stretch of motorway lined with buildings and with little in the way of off ramps to escape down. You start at one end, the enemy starts at the other and you smash into each other somewhere in the middle. There’s little need for intricate strategy; this map is all about snap decision making under extreme pressure and trying not to crack. This variation bleeds through into Stormrise’s online options too.

Thankfully, when it comes to decision making under pressure, the control system won’t let you down. The team at Creative Assembly has come up with controls specially designed for gamepads, to such an extent that Bhopti reckons PC users will be at a slight disadvantage using mouse and keyboard. It’s all thanks to Whip Select. The right stick acts as your line-of-sight selection tool; flick it in the general direction of a squad of troops and it is immediately under your control. Hold the stick down and you sweep the full 360-degrees for units. Once you’re mentally rewired, it’s extremely intuitive – the only sticking point to start with is that the left stick controls the camera, rather than the right stick.

If you’ve ever played Full Spectrum Warrior you’ll instantly recognise the foot-soldier viewpoint, but we had to try and wean ourselves off the traditional ‘God’ point of view because that would miss some of the danger down on the ground. Similarly, splitting units into easy-to-manage squads is achieved with a single button press. Creative Assembly has simply aimed to increase the number of decisions you can make per minute without being impeded by your control scheme and it has succeeded here.

Initially we were all over the place with the controls. But in 10 minutes it started to fall into place. Stormrise is a game that’s conquered gradually, and could end up dominating the genre.

Feb 9, 2009

Simon was once a freelance games journalist with bylines at publications including GamesRadar. He is now a content designer at DWP Digital - aka the Department for Work and Pensions.