8Bit Hordes – Petroglyph has done it again! They’ve created an amazingly well-put together RTS, and brought it to us console nerds. Now, a brief lesson about Petroglyph and who they are is in order here… Petroglyph is basically Westwood Studios. And who are they? These were one of the founding fathers of the current RTS genre with their Command and Conquer franchise. Command and Conquer grew out to be one of the biggest and most popular released in the RTS market. With 12 games under Westwood and 8 under EA (not counting the mobile stuff and canceled game). So, let’s just say, these guys were revered, had a wide-spread fanbase and knew what they were doing. That was, until EA bought them up. So, let’s fast forward a couple dozen years, and Petroglyph is born. The same Petroglyph that now brings us, 8Bit Hordes. One of three iterations in its 8Bit genre. The other 2 being Armies, and Invasion. So, interested into how they did and want to find out if its worth playing? Then just take a seat Commander, we have a job to do…
What is Good?
- Smooth: My o my does this game play smooth. No FPS drops, no headscratcher movement patterns. You tell your units to go somewhere, and they’ll take the shortest route to said location. Not only that, every animation, each graphical part that makes up the game? Just looks and feels polished and the love and care just pours out of it. Kudos Petroglyph, your heart is still where it should be, at the heart of the RTS genre!
- Controls: If there is one thing that makes or breaks a console based RTS, then it will be its controls. Either it’s too complex, turning the simplest of tasks into a chore. Or it’s such a hotchpotch that it just turns into one big mess. They took no part of that and show us how RTS control schemes should be done. You can get up to 3 blobs of units assigned to an appropriate key. Making it possible to micromanage your ranged units safe from frontal assaults. Though there is a slight learning curve to these controls, you’ll quickly get a hang of them.
- 2-Sided campaign: 8bit Hordes throws at you not one, but 2 campaigns. One from the Undead/Orc side. The other from those stinking humans. Each campaign sports 12 missions, giving you a total of 24 missions to complete. Not only that, did I mention there is a Co-Op possibility? Yes indeed! So, get your friends in, and tackle these missions together!
- Soundtrack: “What is this familiar sounding music?” I was wondering when I was crashing through base after base. It felt, good. It felt, like coming home. It felt right! So, I took it upon myself to find out who it was that composed this game’s soundtrack. And believe me, I was amazed! No other then Frank Klepacki fathered the tracks! Want to know why I just had my little nerdgasm? Frank Klepacki is responsible for one of my most played tracks on my MP3 player when I was a little boy, namely a song called “hell march”. And want to know where this song came from? Command and Conquer Red Alert. And who created those? Westwood Studios! The circle was made complete again!
- Campaign: Though the game has 2 different stories spanning over 12 missions each, none of them feel exciting. The story is told by text at the start of the map, and that’s it. No in game plot twists, no in game cut scenes. Just… Do your challenge(s) and that’s it. Onwards to the next stage. This felt a bit like a letdown in my opinion. As, when comparing this with command and conquer? These games were jampacked with twists, had interesting stories and whatnot. So please Petroglyph… Step it up a bit for your future games!
- Difficulty settings: There are 3 difficulty settings. Easy, normal and hard. Easy gives you your basic challenge for your mission which gives the needed unlocks for the next mission. Normal unlocks the other 2 challenges that gives you extra units, gold, already prebuilt structures. And hard… does nothing other then just upping the difficulty scale. And let that be another letdown. The AI is kind of braindead. So, you’ll be going through the campaign mode quite easily, even on hard.
What is Bad?
Strategy, where?: Alright, so, what does RTS stand for? Real Time Strategy. So, you would think it needs to be strategic, right? Unfortunately, 8bit Hordes seems to have missed this lesson. You basically just turtle up and wait. Build up a death ball (this is a certain consistency of units that is used to steamroll over an enemy with little to no resistance) and march onwards. Wipe the area clean, and then its rinse and repeat again. Though you can still play this strategically, and build up an army containing units of all different shapes and sizes. This still feels like a build unit A and unit C, and just roll over them.
8Bit Hordes – 72/100
Though I love the fact that the game runs and plays smoothly and the color pallet is vibrant, I still think they could have put a bit more effort in its story that the campaign mode delivers. Though let that not be a deal breaker. Because what the story lacks, the game makes up in its diverse unit count and well put map design. It just oozes that old-school RTS gameplay we all have come to know and adore. So, all of you RTS gamers out there, rejoice, a decent one has been unleashed upon us, yet again, by Petroglyph! Now, if I am permitted? I have got me some orcs to bash their heads in, I mean skellies…