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Str: I of the Enemy [by Enemy Technology]

Game Review:  I of the Enemy
Release: November  2004
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Enemy Technology
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, 400MHz Pentium II , 128 MB of RAM, DirectX 8+
Players: 1-8 (multiplayer online)
Price: $19.95


As a writer of sorts I also do a fair amount of reading. However, just because I like to read doesn't mean that I like to read in games. In most games with a lot of text I find myself immediately hitting whatever button I can to skip past the text. I of the Enemy is one of those few times where I've taken the time to read everything. In fact I went way beyond reading everything, as I would happily play the next level, just because I knew that after I beat it I would get another piece of the story.

I of the Enemy is a Real-Time Strategy game that puts gamers into an intense intergalactic firefight between multiple alien races. The game plays much like you would expect from an RTS, with multiple units that each have distinct abilities and disabilities. Learning to use the right unit for the right task, and especially learning how to use your units together to find enemies and eliminate them is a challenge that will test even the best of gamers.

Unlike most RTS games the amount of focus put on building a large army is somewhat lessened. Instead the game allows gamers to build smaller strike forces that come to feel like a tight-nit group as you move on from one level to the next and carry over key members of your team.

With otherworld terrain, a wonderful storyline, and some very strong sound, IOE made it into our top 10 Indie games of 2004, and it is a worthy addition to any gamer's library.

Graphics 7/10
Those familiar with the Command and Conquer games from the late 90s should feel right at home with the graphics in this game. The graphics are a little bit dated, which is unfortunate as it does take away a bit from an otherwise amazing game. Those looking for immediate gratification in the graphic arena will likely find themselves unsatisfied. However, there should be no mistaking that the graphics are well done. Just because they have a little dated look to them doesn't mean they don't look good. Each of the units in the game has had careful attention paid to it, and the end result is a very good looking game.

Sound 10/10
As the winner of the award for best sound in an Indie game last year, there can be no question that I of the Enemy delivers in the sound category. The sound is carefully crafted with professional voices performing much of the great quantity of speech in the game. Each level begins with an interlude that is entirely voiced, and the quality is so strong it is something that all gamers will immediately recognize as stand-out. The sound tracks themselves are also a wonderful work of art with catchy music that provides a wonderful moody background which captures the feel of the game and conveys it in such a strong manner that you will completely loose track of the world around you while playing.

Game Play 8/10
Enemy Technology has gone the extra mile to ensure that the game is easy to pick-up and play, while adding many advanced features that ensure that gamers who appreciate the more complex nuances of strategy gaming are not forgotten. (Learning to properly use the Mortar is an adventure, but well worth the results) There are a couple of knocks here as I watched my units march right through the middle of firefights a couple of times, being sliced and diced instead of fighting, but overall the AI works   quite well.

There are big gains though for the game as it focuses on strategy instead of on building up an unconquerable army and then overwhelming your enemies. IOE uses a warp gate of sorts that allows you to add new units to your army without focusing as much on unit development and unit numbers as you find in most RTS games. The levels require that you use your resources wisely as you take out a supply caravan or infiltrate specific enemy territory.  If you are expecting to win without thinking, you will find yourself losing a lot.

In addition you are able to keep units with you and their abilities increase as they gain experience. Typically those units are joined by a leader, which acts much like a 'hero' unit from other RTS games.  This is a nice addition that helps aid in providing a tight-knit army unit feel to your troups.

Value 9/10
At a price that is nearly stealing you can pick up many hours of entertainment in IOE. This is one of the better produced Indie games to come out in the last year from start to finish, and though the graphics may not be quite up to par with mainstream titles, everything else is.

Concept 8/10
IOE presents an engaging story that is better than I've seen in any other RTS game. Otherwise, the gameplay proceeds in a rather predictable manner that doesn't win the game big points for innovation. However, the variety of units and the way that they are used within the game provides a slightly different take on the RTS genre that really works.

Fun 8/10
There were moments in the game where I got really frustrated because the difficulty level seemed to increase at a strange pace that left me breezing through some levels, only to follow them up with levels that left me scratching my head. While this left me feeling frustrated sometimes, the rewarding storyline kept me absolutely entranced as I tried to move on. Right about half-way through the story there is a moment where everything turns upside down. It is a wonderfully done transition that left me thinking 'oh my gosh!' Its hard to describe, but if you've ever been deeply involved in a story and had one of those moments where the reality you created seems to shrink away into nothingness leaving you to carve out a new reality, you have a slight understanding of how it feels to be involved in a story like this. The enjoyment from the game comes in great part from the quality of the story and the fantastic job done in implementing the storyline into the game.

Overall 9/10
IOE is a game that is really better than the sum of its parts. The one thing that is probably keeping most fans from appreciating it is the impossibility of making a demo long enough for players to get a feel for how good the game really is.  Enemy Technology recently tried to attack that point by releasing a freeware prequel to the game called Ril' Cerat (complete with Multiplayer LAN play for 8 people).  If you are somehow scared by the price of the game, the prequel has enough goodness that you have no excuse to not pick it up.   When you are done, head on to the real thing, the story is more than reason enough to pay the small price.

Added: March 24th 2005
Reviewer: Russell Carroll
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