SunAge - first impressions

Sept 25, 2007

Developer, Vertex4's upcoming sci-fi RTS, SunAge is a self proclaimed "old school RTS" with a few innovative features up its sleeve. Units all sport several command modes, which allow you to change a squad's role on the fly. A circular ring indicating your selected units' range of fire has also been added.

It does seem like these new concepts could add a few twists to the usual RTS strategy sets. For example, a squad of infantry could be quickly changed to sniper mode, increasing their firing range and allowing them to pick off approaching enemy units from a distance.

SunAge also bumps up the importance of resources as the game will feature a total of four shiny mounds of crystals to fuel your growing army. Maps have been designed to make controlling these nodes key to winning, as the rarest materials - required to build the most powerful units at the top of the tech tree - are placed in contested areas. On the other hand, controlling resources have always been important in the genre, and we're wondering if having more of them to acquire and control will add much to SunAge's fun-factor.

We really like the ideas behind the new gameplay mechanics Vertex4 has added to SunAge. They're the sort of things that could only come from a team that loves RTS'. But we've got some concerns about how they'll be implemented.

While emphasizing the importance of each units' range sounds like it could lead to some interesting new directions for the genre, the range indicator also seemed a little distracting, and might wind up making it feel like you're playing SunAge with cataract stricken eyes. Maybe we've become too accustomed to letting our units' firing range remain in the background.

We're also wondering if it's too soon for an old school RTS to be able to grab you with the classic nostalgia factor. SunAge is currently scheduled to release this October. But there are a slew of expansions for several highly anticipated "new school" RTS titles like Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts and Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance just around the corner.

It's too soon to dismiss SunAge before we actually get our hands on it and our time with the game was very brief. But from the looks of things, it seems like the genre might need a little more time before classic RTS gameplay becomes a big draw in and of itself.