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NUCLEAR DAWN   Interwave Studios

This is a tough action game in the 1st person. Players get to choose whether they begin as Beginners, take the Normal route or are Hard-Assed mercenary types. Once they have determined this there is a matter of diving straight into the action, starting their own server game, finding a server, letting the game find them a server or taking the Training Tutorials. My advice to all first time Nuclear Dawn players is to take the Tutorial, at least as far as you can because it has differences from the usual game of this type. I say "as far as you can" because I encountered a problem during the Tutorial when I reached the part for Quick-Switching Weapons. The Tutorial tells you to use the switch but no matter what I did or where I looked or which key I pressed I couldn't find any such switch. However I did find that the Mouse Wheel works very well as a weapons changer.

Below are the insignia of the six combative factions:

                         

There are two parts to the Tutorial - Commander and Soldier. When you join an ongoing game you usually join as a Soldier, but there are occasions when the Commander position is available and it may be offered to you or you may be part of an election by vote process if more than one player wishes to be Commander - you can however play just as well without a Commander.

It is best to play through both Commander and Soldier parts as they are quite different. As the Commander it is up to you to coordinate your team's attacks and to learn the new technologies required for success. It is up to the Commander to balance the use of resources between Expansion, Defence and Power. By going through the Commander tutorial you gain an advantage over those who didn't when it comes to being the actual team commander. By building wireless power repeaters you extend the range of your Major Power Source; other buildings give you various other advantageous effects.

Basics for the Soldier Types: As one of the four Soldier types you are expert in stealth and knives, mini-guns, all manner of weapons and explosives.

Assault: 1st person movement. Weapons Inventory. Aiming. Assault Visor.
EXO:  Chain-Gun. Siege weapon training.
Stealth: Learn stealth moves. Backstabbing and use of Invisibility cloak.
Support: Have the value of being a Medic. Also have explosives knowledge as an Engineer.

                   

Each battle that I have taken part in, joining usually after it has started, has taken at least 20 minutes of constant edge of seat action. To gain better technologies you need to spend the VPs you gain from killing opponents and defending your own team structures against the enemy and for defeating and capturing enemy resources and structures. If you die you lose VPs, likewise if you commit suicide - this may be achieved by walking into an unwinnable fight or forgetting to throw the grenade you were holding far enough. Friendly fire can be switched on or off at the game's start by the server controller. Like most of these games you either join a server or start one and players can find it and join, selecting the team they wish to be on by the insignia on offer.  When encountering other combatants you will generally only see their colour ID (and thus which side they are on) when you have them in your sights, your own team members colour ID are generally visible to you - their names above their heads. At the end of the battle, when time has expired (there is an onscreen clock but you also get verbal announcements) you see a chart showing all players Kills and Deaths, VPs and other achievements etc.

The terrain you traverse is very detailed 3D with many opportunities to gain height advantage or hide behind ruined vehicles and around corners, and wherever else you find concealment. One shot rarely kills, though a headshot may be thus effctive, so two opponents may face each other, each firing deadly rounds into the other until one of them expires. The other then needs to get their wounds tended or be easy prey to the next opposition member they meet. Characters are small onscreen and even using a 28" monitor I often found it difficult to discern a non-moving opponent from the barricade behind which he hides. This rewards the patient player who finds a good ambushing position, but of course while you are waiting you are not scoring points.

Sustained combat can take its toll of your concentration - not your characters concentration, I mean yours as a player. This generally means you get sloppy and die too easily. This doesn't help your own VP scoring and it also hurts your team. If you find yourself dying a little too often there is usually time for you to take a breather at the spawn spot before diving back into the action.

My opinion of this game is quite high. It is thoughtfully planned and requires players to be more than headless chickens running around with large guns. At the same time it has enough variable action to keep the most blood thristy players enthralled and coming back for more. Beginning a new game immediately after ending a battle is a regular occurence, especially as the adrenaline is almost certain to be flowing, either with the power of victory or the scent of revenge.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015