Reviewed: June 26, 2011
Released: June 2, 2011
If I had to draw a direct line of ancestry for Under Siege, it would probably have to be the Myth series, from the heyday of PC gaming, long before Bungie became the Halo studio. Old school PC gamers shouldn't get too excited, though: Though it shares a fair number of design concepts with Myth, with persistent units and a focus on combat over logistics at the forefront, Under Siege manages to stumble over its own difficulty and a lack of strategic depth. Still, for new developers Seed Studio, it has some promising elements that we might be able to look forward to in later games.|
Under Siege's campaign is its weakest point by far. Set in a vaguely industrial fantasy world in the midst of a civil war and an outbreak of monsters, the story unfolds through fairly predictable dialogue scenes with characters drawn in an anime style that clashes with the rest of the game's art. Once you finish reading the dialogue (Or just immediately skip through it), you end up fighting your way through one of the game's maps.
The campaign's missions aren't especially exciting, mostly focusing on getting from the start to the end and pushing through encounters without casualties. Any soldiers that die are gone for good, and either need to be replaced with cash or have their units re-bought entirely. The only divergences from the path in most missions are for treasure that you can use for replacements, new soldiers, and upgrades. Additionally, many missions have sudden spikes in difficulty at the end, which seem designed to challenge the standard complements that you've been using up to that point. While this would normally be good, the lack of mid-mission saves leads to a lot of times when you'll simply choke and die, leaving you to replay the easy parts of a mission again to work up to the real challenge.
Though the campaign serves as a decent tutorial to the rock-paper-scissors-styled balance between units, it could stand to be a little shorter. The main meat of the game is in multiplayer, which features quick, brutal battles between players in a variety of game types ranging from deathmatch to survival. While a poor choice of army can leave you destroyed, the games go quickly enough that you won't have long to regret your decisions before learning from them and trying again.
The game's units range from footmen and archers to mages and monsters. Each has its own suite of abilities that are accessed by hotkeys, and while some don't make too much thematic sense, such as archers being able to heal friendly units, they add what depth the game has. The game's control scheme does a decent job of easing the pains that come from playing an RTS on console, particularly in selection, with the ability to hotkey command groups being essential to playing well. While the game supports PlayStation Move for people who want to play the game in more traditional pointer-based RTS style, I wasn't able to try it out.
Finally, adding some longevity to the game, Under Siege includes a fairly powerful level editor that's at least on par with most PC games. While the game's light on actual strategy and heavy on micromanagement and instant to instant tactics, it's still not a bad choice for people looking for quick, RTS-style skirmishes on the PS3.