Titans of Steel: Warring Suns Review (PC)
Players can create or modify their own mechs via a factory module or simply choose a suitable one from the vast choice available. Due to the sheer variety of options available, just mucking around in this area can take up a large amount of your time, although it is fun trying to come up with that perfect design
The learning curve on TOS is steep to say the very least due to a somewhat unconventional command mode. The manual does go a fair way to making this a bit easier and you also have the option of digging deeper via a full manual in .PCX format, but TBH, unless you are very patient, a lot of players will give up here. TOS is turn based, using individual time slices for each mech, so that you can, in theory, plan out your moves in great detail. The problem arises in the complexity of achieving this. I don’t consider myself to be much of a slouch when it comes to strategy gaming, but it took me nearly 2 days just to get a mech doing something right in the tutorial.
When setting up your squad, you have the option to choose pilots from 4 differing races. Each race differs dramatically from each other, has their own pros and cons, and are well documented via either of the manuals. Having sorted the pilots, you can then set about assigning each to a suitable mech. At this stage you will need to give some thought to your strategy – don’t put all your eggs in one basket and try to ensure that your squad can cover a variety of battle modes. You also need to ensure that the right pilot gets the right mech – an energy weapons specialist is wasted in a machine gun toting mech (unless you are trying to build up his experience).
Players can play solo or hotseat multiplayer or even go online to find opponents. 4 squads consisting of a max of 8 titans per squad can compete in various terrains ranging from Savannah to deep core with cover and obstacles dotting these maps. Cover comes from the likes of forests, hills and mountains whereas obstacles can be rivers, swamps, quicksand and even lava lakes.
There are 3 modes of play: - Solitaire, Hotseat or Network. Use Solitaire to play the campaign and improve your skills, Hotseat to play with or against up to 3 other human players on a single PC, or go online and pit yourself against players all over the world via the Network option. The more you play, the more experienced your pilots (jocks) become so that, in time, you can build up squads suitable for just about any eventuality.
The battlefields are hex-based grids, ranging in type from desert/Savannah style through to deep core situations. All having a variety of obstacles and cover that can be fully utilised by a careful player. Line of Sight plays a huge part in the proceedings – you can’t shoot at what you can’t see, but LOS can easily be checked via a hotkey. However, there are so many hotkeys assigned to just about everything, you really need a hotkey for them as well (that’s how confusing it can get). Tactics and the individual abilities of your jocks can go a long way in overcoming more numerous foes. Careful aiming and concentrations of fire can reduce an enemy mech to scrap in seconds, so don’t just charge in all guns blazing or you will leave behind a nice trail of your own wreckage.
The graphics in TOS are more than adequate for the job although I couldn’t help noticing a sort of ‘retro’ aspect to them. The mechs are well animated and scenery/obstacles etc easily distinguished.
The sound is reasonably good with a rock based background music that never goes OTT or drowns out the weapons effects which are so clear that you can tell just what sort of weapon is being used without having to search the map for the action.
This games' longevity will come from the differing gameplay modes. Being able to play with some colleagues on one PC is a bonus while being turn based will remove a lot of ‘over the shoulder pressure’ and I can see how easy it will be to become very attached to your individual jocks as they gain in experience and status.
Overall though, this is a very complicated, hex/turn based game that a lot of people will ignore in today’s market of instant action/ shoot first, ask questions later style products. You really will need a lot of perseverance to get the most out of it and I feel that this, more than anything, will prevent this from ever becoming a well known title.