RTS fans, the time has finally come. You have seen all the gameplay videos, endured the delayed launch, and now your wait is finally over. Starting today, you can finally get your hands on Hidden Path Entertainments’ long awaited RTS, Brass Tactics Arena.
Okay, so it’s not the full game just yet. The full version of Brass Tactics drops on February 22. Today we are focusing on the free version. Before you scoff, let me just say that it gives you a fantastic demo of what the full version offers. Best of all, you get to try it out online or solo. So, let’s take a quick look at what Brass Tactics Arena has to offer.
It’s All About the Tactics
The point of Brass Tactics Arena is pretty simple. You want to destroy your enemies castle and claim it for your own. How you go about doing that is not so simple. When you first dive into the game you have a few choices as to what you can do. The correct choice, is going through the first couple campaign missions that are available.
These two missions provide a wealth of information and they let you test it all out as you go. All the gameplay takes place in real time, so tinkering with everything in a controlled setting is pretty handy. The whole process took about half an hour, but trust me, it’s a must. The basic are all pretty easy to follow. You will learn how to gather and spend resources, expand your domain, and utilize your units.
Overall, the controls are pretty straight forward, but it does take time and practice to get everything down. Especially if you want to effectively command your units in the heat of battle. The only thing that I disliked about the controller setup, is how you move your avatar. It is set up like a skiing motion that also lets you move up and down. I really would prefer a few set locations you can warp to, or even free locomotion. It might just be me, but the setup felt a little distracting at times because it felt unnatural to me.
Online or Solo
Once you get the hang of your controls, you can move on to online gameplay. The free version offers a few options for this. You can play with friends, join a quick match, or a co-op quick match. If you feel like staying solo for a while longer, you can also check out an available solo map.
I ran into a little downtime waiting for an online match, but Hidden Path did something pretty cool to keep you entertained while you wait. You get to spar with an AI opponent in a little mini tactics game. While it’s not anything too complex, it makes any delay in matchmaking go by in a flash.
Once you do get into a game, it gets right into the action. This isn’t turn based, so you really need to think on your feet. Players can chat with each other the entire game, though you can turn that feature off if you like. The gameplay itself comes down to your skill as a tactician. The eight available units each have their strengths and weakness, as well as a healthy number of upgrades to play around with. I definitely got the impression that this game will cater to hardcore RTS fans in regards to unit diversity. You get everything from archers and flyers, to cloaked warriors and artillery.
The solo map that is available pits you against a snarky, but really good, AI opponent. My match lasted about twenty minutes before I lost. The second time I tried it, the match went on for about thirty minutes. Then I lost again. Clearly, I am not the best around, but the matches lasted a fair amount of time. Better still, I had fun until the bitter end each time.
To the Bitter End
After playing for several hours I have come to the conclusion that I suck at RTS games. It’s just not my jam. Despite my lack of skill, I found myself having a blast with Brass Tactics Arena. It took some time to figure out exactly what it is about the game that causes me to enjoy the punishment, but I think it comes down to how well polished this game is.
Despite my dislike of the avatar movement, everything else feels well balanced. The production value is amazing and the level of options in how you approach each match is very satisfying. Am I going to become a Brass Tactics Arena legend? Definitely not. But, I will be looking forward to seeing what the full campaign has to offer.
Brass Tactics Arena only comes with one playable map, a handful of solo content, and unlimited online play. It provides players with a basic understand of how the game feels, and leaves you wanting more. I feel like this game will definitely be a hit with RTS fans but will also be one hell of good introduction to players that might not typically enjoy the genre. Don’t take my word for it though, Brass Tactics Arena is free, so go check it out already!
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