Armada was developed my a small design house called Metro3D. This shows throughout the game, as it simply doesnít have the same feel as most of todayís "me too" titles from the larger studios. The game is a bit hard to pin down into a certain genre though, and is therefore slightly hard to explain. It just does not fit well into any genre already defined. Sure, you could call it an RPG I suppose, but when was the last time you played an RPG that involved you flying around space blowing up stuff in the same style as the classic Asteroids? So itís a shooter then, right? Well yes, but thatís not all it is. I canít recall a shooter that even involved real storyline, quests to accomplish, or leveling based on experience points. It really and truly is a melding of both of these genres, and quite an interesting experience.
The game begins with you choosing one of six races of alien, each with varying strengths and weaknesses. The Terren, for example, excel in their military equipment. You can except them to just be overall more tough than some of the others. One race use ships that fire in three directions. Another has homing fire. Your ultimate goal is to destroy the Armada, a mysterious group of aliens that seem to want only one thing... your destruction. You will accept missions from the home planet and then will have to fly to whatever coordinates are given to you and take care of the problem there. You might fly to some hostile planet and have to rid it of whatever vermin are there, or it may be a simple escort mission. You never have to do it alone though, as up to three of your friends can join you in your quests.
Armadaís graphics are nothing to get you excited about. Youíll usually be looking at 3D characters on a nice two-dimensional backdrop. Itís really nothing impressive but more than gets the job done. The graphics are nice and crisp, and always allow you to see whatís going on. If you go in not expecting too much, you wonít be disappointed. Luckily, this isnít the area Armada attempts as its strong point so no harm done really.
The sound effects and music serve their purpose. You wonít be bopping around with the tunes like you might when playing Crazy Taxi. But you certainly wonít feel the need to turn off the music either. It simply fits. The voices youíll be hearing throughout the game are wonderfully done. You will not be laughing when someone gives you a mission. This is unbelievable considering the designers of the game also acted out all of the script. Impressive.
If you've played Asteroids you really already have an idea of what to expect concerning control. Some people have a bit of difficulty coming to grips with how their ship reacts at first though. Luckily this generally doesn't last too long once you get into playing the game. The main problem is that once in motion your ship remains that way for some time. If you want to stop quickly the only way is to spin around and thrust in the opposite direction. Like I said, some have trouble with it, some don't. In either case it isn't much of a problem, but could lead to some frustration in the beginning.
The point at which Armada stumbles the most is its relative brevity. The world you have to explore is absolutely huge, even endless perhaps. Yet there are very few missions, around 30 in all, and the game can easily be finished in one sitting if you have friends playing with you. The game can be finished without seeing even half of the ship upgrades. You get the feeling there was meant to be so much more, and with good reason, there was. You see, Metro3D originally planned for Armada to be playable online. When SEGA let the network gaming date slip, Metro3D was forced to either push the game out the door or wait on SEGA. They chose the former. The missions then had to be altered considerably and because playing in a world filled with humans was meant to create most of the adventure, the title suffers abit.
Despite this rather large last minute alteration in gameplay, Armada still becomes unbelievably addictive. You will want to keep playing to see the ship upgrades, not to mention the special items that donít become available to you until much later on in the game. If you can find it for a good price, I would highly recommend a purchase. The more we support small developers such as Metro3D the more likely it will be to get other games with as much creativity as Armada holds. If you simply canít justify a purchase though, you can always pick up Armada 2, which is already in the works... and Iíve been guaranteed that this time you will definitely be playing with more than 3 other people.
Sega Enterprises Ltd.
3 - Average
"It becomes unbelievably addictive"