Savage: Battle for Newerth
Savage battle for Newerth appeared as a multiplayer demo some time ago and was able to convince the gaming public about its gameformat. At least it seemed that way, because the demo servers where overloaded for a while with people eager to play. Even now a good number of demo servers are still online.
While already being released for quite some time in the United States, Savage is now going to be available for the European gamer in a special bonus package which includes a walkthrough manual and the official mod Samurai Wars. This mod replaces the orginal units with units inspired by feudal japan, including samurai, archers and peasants with sticks…
In essence Savage is a Team FPS where the goal is to destroy the enemies headquarter or main building.
The developers have however included some major elements from other gameformats like RTS and RPG’s.
First of all, there is the RTS influence in the shape of the “Commander”. He does not participate in the actual fighting but gives orders to other players. Interestingly enough these players are not forced to obey which can -and will- create some interesting discussions between commander and players.
Luckily he also controls a number of “builder units” which allow him to create additional buildings and mine both gold and redstone, two commodities spread over the map.
The commander does all this from a top down view of the map, not appearing as an actual unit in the game.
The commanders Buildings and commodities are used to research new stronger units or weapons which can be bought by the players on his team. This is all very similar to the popular Half-Life mod, Natural Selection. With the one exception that the player himself must buy these items while spawning after his death.
Secondly there is the RPG element: you as player get money and experience while killing either the npc monsters that can be found on certain locations on the map or actual enemy players which can be found just about anywhere you look.
The experience points you gather by killing units slowly fills a ‘pool’ that makes you increase a level when it reaches a certain amount. This level influences your general attributes like damage and armor, it also makes you look more impressive. This practice known as ‘levelling’ is well known in RPG’s. In general it is easy to distinguish a low level enemy and a high level one, both weapons and armor look a lot more menacing on the latter. The money you earn by killing is spent on higher classes since you normally play with a sort of weak starter unit and weapons, some of which are free but the most useful ones have to be bought.
The game has 2 very different factions, The legion of Man and the Beast Horde. The Legion of Man has more FPS like weaponry like bows, crossbows, catapults and more advanced range weaponry like lasers and shotguns. The Beast Horde on the other hand is a more close combat orientated faction with some magical ranged weapons like fireballs, lighting and magical items. Both factions differ greatly from each other so that learning to play both of them will extend the lifespan of this game considerably.
Each faction has 4 different classes to play with, a low level starter unit, a more developed all-round fighter, a healer, a heavy close combat player and some sort of long range heavy bombardment units for use against enemy buildings.
While the classes are the same for both factions, the units themselves differ greatly from each other, especially the different weaponry that both factions have at their disposal makes them both unique.
The graphics engine is not top of the line but it gets the job done displaying the rather large maps with enough detail to be enjoyed, but not wowed. The physics engine is also pretty basic but like the graphics engine it’s functional. They may not be top of the line but both are quite nice to look at and can be enjoyed. The sound however seems a little basic, while the music is not bad, the sound effects seem rather dull and minimalistic.
The game concept is a hybrid of several genres but it seems to work providing you have a good team, this means you need a competent commander since he must be able to both organise a defense, research weaponry and have a team that follows orders.
Fighting sometimes can be chaotic with several players running around chopping each other with close combat weapons while long range weaponry cut into large groups of people. But dispite that I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and it’s certainly a change from the normal “boring” FPS.