Title: 8 Bit Armies
Released For: PC (windows)
DRM and DRM Free Versions Available
Released On: Apr 22, 2016
MSRP: $14.99 ( Purchased Copy )
8-Bit Armies is a retro Real-Time Strategy game, cracking the same vein in as Command and Conquer. With a voxel art style, 8-Bit Armies tries to play off the retro look. You’ll collect resources, build up and defend your base, raise your army, and obliterate your opponents, literally! 8-Bit Armies features offline single-player missions, two-player cooperative missions, AI skirmish mode, and Player-vs-Player Multiplayer modes running on dedicated game servers.
From what we’ve gathered with our magical and mystical ability of staring at the Steam Store page, there’s 25 offline campaign missions, 12 co-op missions, 10 multiplayer maps, and 1 faction.
Sorry, one? We mean, we know it’s more focused on people who are getting into RTS games, but one faction on launch?
As for the gameplay, it’s your fairly typical lot, except dumbed down. It’s Command and conquer in almost every aspect, but even on release, the first Command and Conquer was a fairly simple game to get into, and just a hard game to master. 8 Bit Armies has mostly thrown out the ‘hard game to master’ bit, and given you the rest. Which sounds great! Meaning, there’s a whole campaign, skirmish against AI, multiplayer, what’s wrong? For one, they did everything wrong Command and Conquer did wrong, and a lot more. For starters, the campaign is weak. Unlike in the superior sequel Red Alert, there’s no cutscenes in the campaign. You select your level, some text appears, you have some side objectives which are almost impossible for said new people the game is trying to get into, you have a few (and we mean a few) difficulty options, and then they’re off. It plays almost identical in every way to just a shorter skirmish match, side goals are either impossible for the ‘beginner’ player audience it’s trying to advertise to, or they can just be done along with the main goal which makes them pointless, and because there are no factions, no story, and no cutscenes at all, it’s just skirmish mode with objectives thrown in. The campaign isn’t fun, it’s boring. We started playing, got through six missions and quit. The bonus objectives are cool, and would help make any other campaign more replayable, especially since they give you bonus things that stack on to your next loadout for the next mission, but it can’t make it replayable if it’s just tedious to play. Skirmish mode made the campaign obsolete.
Add these problems up, and you have an unneeded campaign.
Skirmish mode is up next, and it’s about what you expect. Again, you have only one faction. As such in skirmish, every faction plays the same, because they are all indeed playing the same faction. You have 10 maps to choose from, the color of the AI, and their difficulty. You have a few different ‘versions’ of skirmish mode available by changing the very few rules, but we really wish there were more game modes, because as is, there’s only ever one game mode, which is deathmatch/team deathmatch. This would be ‘okay’ if there were more than one faction, and the factions had different units and played differently, but they don’t because we only ever have one faction, and there’s only ever one strategy to use. There’s also a problem of the AI. The AI is simple, and (even with an update fixing this issue) the AI still somehow rush and manage an army I’ve never even seen in multiplayer by 2:30 into a match. The problem is that the AI will rush in the beginning with the same units you can defend with, and because turrets both are horrible and have the range of Nerf guns, it just comes down to ‘who has more of x units that happen to counter y units’. The game is a big fan of counter units, but because air units have more mobility and have anti-infantry/anti-vehicle versions, players could just build an army of air units without a second thought. The AI is overly simple, and if they don’t rush, end up being way too easy to beat. The game is enjoyable, but I’m not sure if it’s because the game itself is good, or if it’s because it just took good things other games also did well. Outside of the good elements it took from Command and Conquer, we’re really not sure what it has as an identity, and that worries us about its future. Because there’s so few units or unique types of units/buildings, it comes off as feeling rather generic.
As for multiplayer, it exists. We tried 15 total games, and 12 of those 15 games just got canceled after waiting in a lobby with other players for 10 minutes. No, we don’t have the time for that. It’s nice it exists, but the game needs matchmaking, because we spent far longer in the menus just waiting for something to happen, the game to start, players to join, or for those in our game to decide what kind of game we should have. It has a feel of being incomplete, and why these options you as a host can’t set BEFORE you open the match to players baffles us. You also have an in-game text chat function. It works fine, but three of the possible colors in the game are really hard to see in the chat. The chat has a faded black background, and our font was black because the team color we had was black. You can figure out how well that went trying to read dark black and a slightly lighter dark black backdrop.
Visually, it looks okay. It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done. We’d say more, but they really don’t do enough with the lighting so we can see what the game is fully capable of, and almost all the maps take place in the equivalency of ‘day’, so it’s hard to judge it. Characteristically, it looks rather bland, and everything from the maps to the units looks generic. This would be okay if there were other factions, or indeed something else there as a contrast, but there’s not. The game runs really well as a plus, and we don’t doubt it probably being able to run on integrated graphics just fine.
For the audio, the game sounds great. The music was really nice, but the audio effects weren’t really interesting enough or impressive, but it all fit well and sounded defined
For the gameplay settings and options, It’s your fairly typical lot with plenty of sliders, graphical options which are nice to see for a more simplistic looking game, refresh rate options, etc. It’s typical, but it works fine. It’s okay, but we wonder if it’s okay because the actual game is good, or because it took nearly everything that made the Command and Conquer games good, because everything it tries to do comes off as either unfinished or boring. Teasing us with a faction that’s not even out yet is nice, but the game needed more than one faction on release.
It’s hard to suggest because it just feels so incomplete. There’s a lot of really cool game elements here, but most of the things we enjoyed in 8 Bit Armies were just things we also enjoyed in Command and Conquer, and 8 Bit Armies store page certainly isn’t shy about telling us who’s skin it’s wearing. The problem is that everything the game tries to do itself that isn’t just something you could copy easily, it doesn’t do it well. Multiplayer is boring with just one faction with cookie-cutter units, campaign without a story is just the skirmish mode, and the skirmish mode is too shallow with not enough to do. The game is fun in short bursts, but certainly not for the long hall, and we’ll suggest thing game only under the guise that you as a player wait at the very least until the magic faction they tease gets released. The game is a generic RTS for now, take that for what it is, and we hope that it gets better as time goes on.
- – The music is amazing, and the sound effects aren’t half bad
- – fair level of settings to adjust the game, and the game controls well
- – Everything feels so generic and bland
- – Nothing in the game has it’s own style, and we wonder if it will hold a playerbase a year after its release
- – The campaign is boring, the multiplayer is limited without matchmaking, and the skirmish and unit options are shallow