WAR Inc.

by Optik Software/Interactive Magic

As anyone can tell you, war is big business. That point is taken to the limit in a major way in the game, War Inc. You play the CEO of a mercenary corporation. Your predecessor was 'retired early' and it's your job to take over and rake in the big bucks for the Granite Corporation. Your day to day duties range from researching armor, weapons, power sources and the like to playing the stock market and boosting the corporation's finances. Your main duty, however, is to review mercenary assignments that become available and decide whether to accept them or not. If you do, there's generally a good payoff that will allow you to do more hiring of scientists to improve your arsenal even more. The management part of the game is well-built and an integral part of the game, not some tacked-on piece of financial fluff to make the game 'different'. In order to succeed, you will have to have a head for the business end of your enterprise. At it's heart, however, War Inc. is a real-time strategy game. Once an assignment is accepted, you go to your base HQ and begin building troops and arms. Yes, you read that correctly, you build your troops like you would your weapons. Invitro tanks clone your army and are the cheapest weapons you can make. You may then provide training facilities to make them stronger and better equipped to carry out your missions. Vehicles and the like are produced according to your specifications. You decide into which areas to invest your research. Once a new level of technology is reached, the benefits of that level are allowed to be integrated into your weaponry. Almost every tank, truck, and aircraft in the game are personally designed by you, not pre-defined prior to the game. Hull advancements decide which type of vehicle you may build, while they may be armed with any armor or weaponry you have researched. Everything but the initial three vehicles are custom produced. Talk about flexibility, you never know what you will encounter, especially in a multiplayer match where your enemies are real people designing their own weapons of destruction. The graphics in the game are well-designed SVGA, that give the game it's proper military look. Vehicles look good, animations are excellently rendered, and the battlefields simple yet effective. Sounds are appropriate, your troops' responses clear, and your vehicles making the proper noises as they roam the fields. The interface for the game is mouse-controlled, almost everything in the game is handled in this way. Some of the screens were less than intuitive, and involved quite a bit of time to properly learn their functions. A more elegant interface outside the battlefield would have been appreciated. Once in battle, control of the troops is very effective. Selection and movement are very intuitive, especially for those who are proficient at this type of real-time game. Gameplay is very enjoyable and satisfying. You not only get the satisfaction of seeing your soldiers win the battles for you, you get to see your finances rise as well. It's not just a matter of winning the scenarios, it's a matter of making the biggest profit while you're at it. It may be easy to wipe out an army of clones with a heavily armed attack helicopter, but will you make a PROFIT that way? The more efficient you are, the higher the financial gain, hence more money to reinvest in new and better weapons and troops. There are also a number of options that should make almost anyone happy. Stock market management may be left up to the computer, and simulation vs. arcade physics may be selected. Other choices, like unlimited ammo, may be toggled to set the relative difficulty of the campaigns. Multiplayer support is provided by head-to-head play via modem or LAN. As for complaints, I only have a couple. Aside from the interface issues I mentioned earlier, the manual, while a nice effort, was actually only of a little help. A good step-by-step tutorial would have been appreciated. There is an attempt in the manual, and while helping some, still managed to confuse in some respects. Some of the options in it had to be done on a different screen, and some things not possible before taking more action first. While I am pleased that a decent attempt at a manual was made, it could have been much better written and comprehensible. It was almost as if the manual were written for a differrent version of the game, and aimed at someone who already knew how most of the game was laid out. That aside, the game ran flawlessly, the layout of the office and the battlefields efficient, and most of all, was a lot of fun to play. Real-time fans who look forward to the extra challenge of simple financial management will enjoy this well-made and entertaining title.

Graphics 85%
Sounds 80%
Gameplay 91%
Interface 70%
Overall Impression 87%

Bottom Line: Another real-time strategy game, this time with profit being an important aspect, overkill will cost you. Confusing interface while not in battles, and the manual less than helpful. A lot of fun to play, very satisfying.

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Copyright 1997 Electric Games. All rights reserved worldwide.