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ETHERIUM (FOCUS HOME INTERACTIVE) is available to download and play using the media of STEAM. It is an adventure into the future of science and fiction as well as being of retro style in as much as it compares favourably to the gameplay and excitement of such games as "Command & Conquer", "StarCraft" and similar action-packed real-time strategy entertainments involving the control of armed forces.

The opening credits are fed onto a strange mixture of 2D and 3D animations that demonstrate some of what is to come, including some partially endearing inclinations towards tongue-in-cheek comedy. ETHERIUM offers a long but extremely useful Tutorial Mode which all players should undertake for it is more than just a few minutes of how to move, fire and melee; it is a mini game unto itself and of supreme value, even to players familiar with games of this magnitude.

Although it has similarities to many other mass (organised) combat games I believe that the the depths of its background and foreground graphics and the crystal quality of its animations place it towards the fore amongst these epic strategy games. 

    

I, personally, did find it took me a while to get used to the mouse control use as until I had presence of mind to remember the correct glossary of button usage I was expecting different results from both the left and right mouse buttons. The Left button is used for selecting the required units or targets whereas the Right button conveys the Orders you wish to orate.

Etherium introduces a different system for the upgrading of buildings. Rather than just paying an amount (in gold and other resources) and rebuilding the entire construction, in Etherium each expandable Colony building has a number of spaces where an upgrade can be added.  You can bolt-on various centres to raise the overall level, but with many to choose from and so few spaces to engage them, your input has to be determined by what you feel will give you the advantage in the long run or whether a short term fix is required. Once added the upgrade becomes permanent so be very careful on your selections. Each planet has its own hazard and/or natural disaster such as Blizzards and Dust Storms which slow down but do not prevent the occurence of combat.

    

I am enjoying playing ETHERIUM even though there are times when I wish things could be moved along en masse - a quick single-key shortcut on occasion would speed up a process without losing any of the skills or strategies required would have been helpful, there's no doubt, but the few extra seconds spent clicking several buttons on such actions as deployment or production do not really deter from the overall pleasure attained. 

Etherium can be played solo or onlin against/with others. It is probably best, as it is in most online games, to have a pre-arranged time to meet up with your online buddies so that you are not left waiting for a game. The game is more fun if you play with regular friends though as stated , you can wait for pick-up play.

    

To win the game you can have dirty and dangerous destruction at close hand or you can hope for a conclusion by having your orbital cannons destroy the enemy's fleet, eventually forcing them to withdraw. 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015