Savage 2 Review: Changing The Game
Five years ago, S2 games released their first game, called “Savage,” and it instantly became hailed as an original multiplayer title due to it’s unique combination of a real-time strategy game and a shooter. Unfortunately, due to a rather failed marketing campaign as well as flawed design, many people thought it was an MMORPG, and for those who didn’t, found the game to be a bit high on the learning curve. In January 2008, S2 games releases their second attempt to gather an audience with “Savage 2.”
You must be wondering why this writer is wasting his time on a game that was released over a year ago? As strange as this sounds, the game has changed so much since its original incarnation that any review which hasn’t been written the past few months should be considered obsolete. Recently, S2 games performed numerous changes to the game; removing units, adding new units, giving the player more items, and changing the core melee system. Are these changes for the better? Hell yeah.
“Savage 2″ follows the setting of the first game very closely, which would be easy for them as there isn’t much of a narrative to work with. There isn’t a single player campaign, a long-winded intro, or strange character’s names to memorize. All you need to know is this: It’s in the future and world is called Newerth (New Earth). Mankind are in the tribal stages and are trying to survive by stripping the land of resources. Beasts of nature have evolved intellectually, able to form communities on their own and became an enemy to Mankind, who have discovered technology from the past and have begun to apply this new found science to their weaponry, threatening the Beasts homes. So, like any good action game, the two sides go at each other head on by using magic, guns, and swords.
You won’t find this information in-game however, as you would need to browse around the main websites to understand the story. For those who rather not get into detail, all you need to know is you can play a giant grey behemoth beast who swings a tree trunk to smash buildings, or as a ram that shoots flames on all side, burning anyone that comes in your way. The storyline barely comes up so it doesn’t affect the game whatsoever.
The objective of the game is quite simple: Each side has a main base, your job is to destroy the other team’s main base at all costs. Each team has one commander who oversees the game in a real-time strategy mode and helps his teammates by creating buildings to improve the technology, build towers for defenses, and casting spells to help the team or mess around with the opposition. The rest of the players take the role of the soldiers of various pre-made classes such as the scout, the shaman, or the predator, and their job is to make sure things go well for the commander by defending the base, clearing the mines of NPCs to expand, and laying siege at the opponent’s turf.
It might sound a bit intimidating at first, but due to a easy to use interface, it’s actually not that hard to understand the game. There is an interactive tutorial using the voice-over of one of the developers, but unlike other games, it doesn’t try to “role play” you in the mood: it’s more of an audio tape of the instruction manual, giving you details on how exactly the game works. However, don’t automatically assume that after the tutorial you can play as the team’s commander, as the commander’s tutorial is lacking in the depth department. However, for those who just want to kill a lot of people by swinging swords, the tutorial does get into detail there, and the practice mode allows you to mess around with each of the character types in the game.
Speaking of melee, it’s just as easy as understanding the objective. You press the fire attack to simply swing your sword. By pressing the middle mouse button, your character will block incoming attacks from the direction he is facing, however, there is a white meter that drains after each hit, and If the meter goes down, you become stunned and cannot block. You can regain the meter back by either waiting, or with each successful hit, so you need to be aggressive to stay alive. Finally, the third feature is the charge meter. This red bar allows your character to dodge or sprint really fast in a desired direction for a short period of time. This is useful when you want to get around your opponent’s defenses, dodge incoming attacks, or run away. It’s a very simple system, especially when compared to the old system which was nothing more than a glorified rock-paper-scissors. The current system places much more emphasis on outmaneuvering your opponent, stamina management, understanding swing animation speeds, and quick reflexes. I hate to use a cliché, but it is more of an “easy to get into, hard to master” game that anyone with decent taste will appreciate.
Every class in this game is capable of combat, and has their own set of abilities which set the classes’ role in the field. For example, Markmen can turn invisible and plant bombs at bases, while the Shaman has the power of resurrection. Each character can also carry a limited number of items to help them out, from the usual ones, such as healing potions and armor, to unique ones like the Heart of Maliken which gives you health for each kill. Despite the 18 classes and 25 items, which is often a recipe of imbalance, the game manages to be surprisingly equal; it emphasizes skill more than anything else. At the risk of boasting myself, there have been several occasions where this reviewer played as a Chaplin and still managed to defeat the high tier offensive units like the Predator.
Graphically, “Savage 2″ looks great; the unit design and animation are simply amazing, especially considering it came from an independent developer. The levels are an incredible sight, with seasonal lighting, rolling hills, and impassable mountains. Finally, the games run extremely well without any major frame rates or lag issues.
I also forgot to mention one of the most appealing things about “Savage 2;” it is currently free. Well… not entirely, as there are limitations set on “free” accounts like the having limited inventory, and you can only use the Hellborne units once. How much is the Prime Account? Only ten bucks. If you’re a fan of multiplayer games like “Team Fortress 2,” you need to get this game immediately - there is no reason why you shouldn’t have this game at all.