By Paul Cockeram
With Soldiers of Anarchy, Simon and Schuster presents a stylish RTS with a strong tactical emphasis set in an apocalyptic future. While Soldiers of Anarchy is sure to please any fan of the genre, this game brings more to the table than just a relevant storyline and solid graphics. The toolset shipping with the original release promises to be as user friendly and powerful as Bioware's Neverwinter Aurora Toolset, enabling gamers to flex their creative muscles and design their own levels, campaigns, and even cinematics and dialogue.
A zealous cult has triggered a disastrous outbreak of the AIDS virus, killing millions of innocent people and destabilizing governments all over the world. You play a band of NATO troops trying to keep the peace and eliminate the cult threat. At your command are an impressive variety of troops, tanks, helicopters, and gadgets. Particularly notable are the 29 vehicles available in Soldiers of Anarchy, as well as plenty of guns and explosives. The fully interactive game world makes piloting these vehicles an intense experience, as any building can be destroyed, any tree uprooted, any car exploded. All of this destruction will be rendered in rich, full 3D detail featuring a mobile camera that can zoom close enough to read license plates or far enough to see the whole battlefield at a glance.
The user interface is icon based and quite intuitive, shortening the learning curve enough to satisfy veterans to the genre and newcomers alike. The 23 levels through ten campaigns will keep these gamers busy for at least fifteen to twenty hours. But when the single-player campaign is over and the eight different multi-player modes have been explored, that's when the fun really begins. The powerful, user-friendly toolset in Soldiers of Anarchy works within the trend toward taking player/game interaction to the next level, providing would-be designers with the versatility to make structures in 3D Studio Max and import them into the game. Everything gamers see and use in the single-player campaign is available in the toolset, plus unusual items like control chips and medicine. The idea behind these unusual items is to allow players to make their own games or missions not centered on the typical kill-all-enemies objectives but rather search-and-recovery objectives targeting important computer chips or life-saving medicines. But rest assured- Soldiers of Anarchy's fluid combat system ensures that battles remain a highly satisfying way to move the story forward.
Most important for modders is the high level of active, enthusiastic support being promised, featuring a web site to share mods and forthcoming instructions to help novices learn to design compelling content with the Soldiers of Anarchy toolset. All of this adds up to a virtually endless series of campaigns and games whose creativity will be limited only by the ingenuity of the fan base. Start training now-S.O.A. should hit stores in September of this year.