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Savage: The Battle for Newerth
game: Savage: The Battle for Newerth
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: iGames
date posted: 12:00 AM Sat Nov 1st, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Sat Nov 1st, 2003

By Tristan Mayshark

You can think of Savage as a multiplayer FPS, and 95% of the time you would be correct. The other 5% would be made up by people who play as the Team Commander, in which case you can think of Savage as an RTS. Am I starting to make sense to you? This is not a new approach to gaming; BattleZone 3D tried to implement many of the same concepts while allowing the commander to still play through a traditional FPS interface, while a Half Life modification carried the concept further, giving the team commander an RTS , type interface.

Played as an FPS, Savage plays an awful lot like Team Fortress with a medieval fantasy setting, although more teamwork is required: many obstacles require a huge amount of damage to destroy, and people have to be willing to spend some of their time helping to build structures (done by clicking on them repeatedly , whee) and gather resources. There are NPC bots available to do some of the idiot labor, but players have to help. At the beginning of each match, either team is fighting only with their fisticuffs (or equivalent; the nonhuman characters have rather bizarre appendages), only gaining access to new weapons as a result of structures being built. There is a tech-tree structure employed, as in, say, Starcraft, so weapons become available in a linear fashion, with the most powerful bows and spells (as well as special items and giant monsters that can be summoned to smash walls and generally kill stuff) available only later in the game.

The levels are somewhat diverse geographically, but most of them look fairly similar from a scenery point of view. There's also the problem of distance between enemy bases: it's substantial enough to make it a time consuming effort to cross the map, but still so insignificant compared to the distances you'd see between enemy camps in a real conflict as to seem silly.

The different needs of a team do allow for specialization by players, and some people prefer to spend time killing NPC animals (which earns you the Biggest MMORPG Fan? award at the end of the game) while others run fruitless repeat attacks against enemy structures. However, for the most part, the success of a team is based on its ability to adequately defend itself as it expands its tech tree, and then work together as a strike force to descend upon the enemy in a coordinated, directed attack. Structures can be repaired, as in an RTS, and so doing limited damage to them is of little value, and destroying them in one attempt generally involves the coordinated effort of many people. Savage allows for up to 32 players on either team.

Savage's box boasts No Monthly Fee?, which is indeed true, and also a bonus. However, it seems like an odd statement to make on the box, as this game is and is being marketed as an FPS, and does not have a persistent world. In general, online games feature monthly fees to cover the continuing expense of server maintenance, so when you pawn the responsibility of running the servers off onto the gamers, I think you give up the right to charge a monthly fee. I suppose they could have defended it because they do maintain official servers, as well as an Everquest-like patch system (in that patches are systematically downloaded whenever the game is launched, not in that patches take forever and usually crash the game, your computer, and your car if you get unlucky).

The graphics, though a bit repetitive, are fairly pretty: in fact, the first word that comes to mind is whimsical?. The in-game music likewise brings to mind images of fairies and forests, which is somewhat appropriate, although feels much less so during moments of battle. Sadly, the spoken vocals are pretty annoying, and don't fit in too well with the game. They sound like they were a last minute afterthought, and one I could do just as well without.

If you elect to play the game as Commander, you see the world through the same engine, but from the familiar 3/4s overhead view RTS games favor. From here you can order structures built, tell NPCs to gather resources, and direct your team as to what to do if you can get them to listen. And if you're doing a good job, for the most part, people will.

All in all, Savage may not be a game for everyone, but anyone looking for a more team-oriented approach to online murder should defiantly check out the demo.