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UglyDuck
5:02 PM on 02.14.2009



Arena Wars is fun, attractive and simple, yet infinitely replayable. Put simply, itís what Unreal Tournament would be like if it was an RTS. The true depth, however, is something you experience by playing it. It isnít a Triple A title, but it is budget software at its best - sort of like if XBLA was on a computer, if you could imagine that.

The way with the typical RTS is to use pretty explosions and the unspoken promise of tank rushes to lure in the average gamer, then him them with a steep learning curve that they will feel compelled to master despite the fact that it will take many years. From here, you just keep them coming back for expansion packs and sequels until itís the only game they ever play. Sometimes, this journey is fun for the player, but there is a small renegade group of RTS games who do things differently, giving the player a small and manageable handful of elements to work with, like throwing a few random household objects at the feet of a small, perplexed child and observing their next move. This can be fun also.



By removing substantial amounts from the classic model, it serves the dual purpose of A) making the development cycle shorter, easier and more realistic, and B) making the game easier and more fun to play (and also, cheaper). These games are a refreshing break from the boredom of your average FPS, yet they still manage to escape the tyranny of more demanding RTSs and find a nice, warm middle ground. Arena Wars fits this category by removing resource collection, base building and storyline and replacing it with FPS elements like Capture the Flag and Bombing Run.

Iíll keep this simple. Here are some things you might like about Arena Wars.
- There is no tech tree, there are no upgrades or promotions, there is no horrible campaign or accompanying voice acting.
- There is only one team, 6 units types and a handful of game modes. But there are still millions of possibilities.
- The AI adapts to your tactics. You will see them attempt to understand your intentions the more you play.
- The soundtrack is great. Well, I think so. If you disagree with me, you can add your own songs to the in game playlist.
- The in-game map editor is as simple as Far Cryís Ed, yet every dev tool is at your disposal.
- The entire game can be learned in 5 minutes through developer guided tutorials. It placates that feeling of unease you get when you realise you have to put effort in.
- Graphically, it is very scalable. It wonít chug along on your old dead laptop, yet it still looks great on a modern PC.
- The game weighs in at 170 MB; far less than Red Alert 2 even before patches and expansions.
- The entire game loads on startup, which means loading is instant. You choose the map, it loads up faster than a webpage.
- Picture of Bill Bailey to break the monotony (not in game footage).
- You can import your own custom avatar. Just for giggles really, but I liked it.
- All those things you obsessives crave; replays, spectator games, webcam and voice support, all that crap.
- The original game can be purchase dirt cheap from a number of places. Bargain bins, eBay, Goozex - hell, I got mine from Poundland.
- There is a new version of the game out, imaginatively called Arena Wars: Reloaded, if you're interested. Also widely available.



So, there you go. Arena Wars is a game that you can play. This is what we have established. I hope you go away enriched with this knowledge.



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