Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power

Format: PC
Paradox Interactive

Age Restrictions: 12+
10 September 2007

War on the planet of Saraksh can be brutal, with domination of the planet being contended by four factions. Throwing muscle and steel at each other, power alone will not guarantee victory, only the right strategy will win the day...

Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power is a new turn-based science fiction strategy game created by and published by Paradox Interactive.

Anyone who is as deeply encrusted with the dust of time as myself will remember many a wasted youthful evening pulling out large maps covered in hexes and using small bits of cardboard to take over the world... Ah, the world before girls. Things have, oddly enough, not moved on very far and I find myself being grateful. The paper has been replaced with a 3D environment and the little cardboard pieces are now tanks and men that you can throw at your A.I. opponent.

As a genre RTS (Real Time Strategy) has had a good history, initially turning up on early computers and being little more than graphical representations of the original board games, things became more interesting with the advent of Dune 2 and finally exploded onto the scene with the still alive and kicking Command and Conquer series of games.

It would be fair to say that the market has matured and the elements that make up RTS games have changed little. You still have a building stage, in many you have to micro manage the acquisition of resources and when all that is done you get to build your world dominating army, before setting off to, hopefully, kick the bejesus out of your opponent.

Unsurprisingly, Galactic Assault has many of these elements and why not? After all it's what we love about these games. The game is played across a single campaign which has been segmented into four chapters; add the eleven unrelated scenarios and you have a lot of game play time.

The manual is nice and clear, but to honest is only useful for discovering some of the nuances of the game as there are comprehensive tutorials contained in the first seven missions, which gets you up and running very quickly. The main controls are minimal and most build, move and fire controls can be accessed through the mouse. I found this particularly useful as it drives me insane playing games that seem to feel the need to use the whole of the keyboard, leaving you spending too much time ploughing through the manual just to execute a simple manoeuvre. For many this simplicity of approach may seem like condescension, however there are many gamers, myself included, who would rather just get on with the strategy side of things, rather than micro managing an economy.

You get four different nations to play with; The Land of the Unknown Fathers, The Khonties, The Insular Empire and The Barbarians. Each has slightly different strengths and weaknesses as well as units which are peculiar to each of the combatants.

The game has a nice set of playing options from the single person campaign, scenarios and death matches as well as the option to play with real people on the Internet. This means that, thankfully, for once the single player gets the lion's share of game play.

In campaign mode there is a story, of sorts, to keep you focused on your objective, though the narrative is one of the weakest elements of the game. Graphically the game is a reasonable compromise between detail and the desire to run the game on a reasonable spec machine, without it grinding to a halt.

Overall, this is a good game for novices. More advanced players might be irritated by some of the compromises that have been made, but then there are other games for them. Personally, I quite enjoyed it.

Charles Packer

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