Plan­et­fall falls vic­tim to am­bi­tion and po­ten­tial

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

AGE of Won­ders: Plan­et­fall would have been a rather lack­lus­ter re­lease had the de­vel­op­ers sim­ply stuck to the tired old 4X genre-for­mat. For­tu­nately, Tri­umph Stu­dio’s amal­ga­ma­tion of clas­sic 4X game­play and XCOM-style tac­ti­cal bat­tles more than make up for the game’s short­com­ings in the afore­men­tioned de­part­ment.

The bal­anc­ing act be­tween os­ten­si­bly dis­parate game­play types is a fine one, but the de­vel­oper’s have deftly woven them to­gether into a co­he­sive and seam­less - al­beit of­ten dizzy­ingly deep - game­play ex­pe­ri­ence.

Per­haps for most gamers, the most im­me­di­ately fa­mil­iar side of Plan­et­fall’s dou­ble-edged blade will be the hexag­o­nal-tiled world that serves as your re­source, unit and city man­ager. Ev­ery­thing you do in this view will be con­stantly rem­i­nis­cent of the Sid Meier’s way of life - mi­cro-man­age­ment lay­ered upon it­self ad in­fini­tum.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t en­joy­ment to be derived from such game­play, just that Civ­i­liza­tion and its ilk do it much bet­ter. Once a sit­u­a­tion re­quir­ing com­bat un­folds, the game­play switches to a turn-based tac­tics match. You con­trol an army of up to six unites and move them around their own tile-based map through points of cover, spending ac­tion points and gain­ing a per­cent­age ad­van­tage on your op­po­nent.

For a game that com­bines two of the most dense gen­res into one pack­age with such flu­id­ity and grace, you would imag­ine that the tu­to­rial sys­tem would be given the same treat­ment. Alas, no. For if you are a new player to ei­ther genre, then Age of Won­ders: Plan­et­fall is go­ing to be a very tire­some slog in­deed. The tu­to­rial sys­tem is es­sen­tially non-ex­is­tent, mak­ing learn­ing a rather trial-and-er­ror af­fair.

Be­yond the ad­mit­tedly dense and tight game­play, the re­playa­bil­ity fac­tor in Plan­et­fall is sim­ply just not there. While the me­chan­ics of the game are rea­son­ably well oiled, the story and en­velop­ing at­mos­phere falls miles short of the mark.

There’s very lit­tle self aware­ness in the cast of sci-fi tropes on dis­play and ab­so­lutely none of the dystopian madness you would ex­pect from a game about the fu­ture where an om­nipresent force is be­hind all the de­ci­sions made on the planet.

Age of Won­ders: Plan­et­fall is a re­spectable and dar­ing game that de­mands a great deal of time in­vested in it but never nec­es­sar­ily re­wards it. An­other ti­tle that falls vic­tim to its am­bi­tion and po­ten­tial.

Age of Won­ders: Plan­et­fall is a re­spectable and dar­ing game that de­mands a great deal of time, but never nec­es­sar­ily re­wards it.

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