ParaWorld PC Review

In my youth I was a huge fan of the legendary dinosaurs (deep down, weren’t we all?) so you can imagine how pumped I was to saddle up a stegosaurus and smack the living daylights out of some unsuspecting sauropod. Well, the game certainly wasn’t what I expected. What I expected was clearly evident in the opening cinematic: dinosaurs taking cracks at each other with humans jumping all over the place having their asses handed to them by 56 million year old giants. Well, it wasn’t really like that when playing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad experience.

So the play mechanics are of the “been there” race and sometimes we’re getting the “done that” feeling as we’re waiting for our builders to bring in the goods; what sets this game apart from other real time strategies? Well, to get it out of the way for the curious, the campaign (story aside) normally consists of the classic “destroy the enemy base” quests in addition to some side quests such as building repair and surprise attacks. You’re really just thrown into the blue at the start and often have to work things out for yourself. A tip to the frustrated: save when you feel you’re in a good position; you’ll be glad you did. So we’ve seen most of that before, but what really makes the title interesting is the sheer amount and variety of techs available. Even varieties of units are available and get this – many units are unique to their clans. Not one, not two; an amount I’m too lazy to count on the provided tech chart are clan unique and that’s fine by me as it always great to see a variety in playable units.

Multiplayer is where the game really shines, however. Skirmish between you and computers and going for some online play (if you can find an opponent) are probably the most favoured options between players. This is where you select one of the three available clans; Dustriders, Dragon Clan, and the Norsemen (all a little different for varied play) at a default, boomer, or rush favoured play type. You start off in Apoch I (most will probably connect this to the popular “Age” system used in Age of Empires) and as you advance through the five Apochs you will begin to unlock more powerful techs and units. If you think some of your beasties are badass, train up a titan – the most powerful unit in the game. Believe me; storming through an enemy’s base with multiple titans is worth the excessive collection of resources and pitting them up against each other can make or break a battle. And thus is a pitfall in multiplayer gameplay. If one player brings on the heat and the other is unprepared, it can be incredibly difficult to fight back and even survive. Even if you have enough of an army to destroy a titan or two, chances are your villagers can’t sustain the rest of the attack as they slowly muster your depleted resources. Other circumstances might lead to depletion on both ends or otherwise an unsatisfying stalemate.

As previously mentioned, the game carries on a lot from past RTS titles. As with many games that have the gathering of resources feature (in this case food, stone, and wood) units will have to go back and forth with their collected resources between the resource source and the drop-off point. While the amount of goods the villagers can carry helps cut back on a bit of time, it doesn’t speed up the process too noticeably unless you’ve got 5-10 builders going on each at once. The only resource that doesn’t seem too limited is food. Food can range from wild animals (mammals and random dinosaurs – I’m not too sure the latter is all too appetising!) to berries growing on bushes. One must be careful when attacking the animals however as if a nest or baby is attacked your builders are in danger. Stone is found in big clumps of stone, and wood is found in trees – no wooden dinos here!

Visually the game is smack dab stunning. There’s a whole portion of the options menu where we can adjust different settings from shadows to water and world detail to model detail. However as I learned, maxing these out causes a bit of choppiness in the game particularly the pre-rendered cut-scenes. These scenes were made in a fashion that we’re not seeing movie-quality footage between bits of gameplay. In fact, we’re seeing something very close to the actual play-time graphics. Noticeably these are sometimes incredibly blocky, but are otherwise acceptable – nothing that should denote a purchase by any means. In-game the animations are actually quite smooth with only a few random mishaps, but often get pretty repetitive. Not much is seen in the actual attacking – your units stop, attack, pause, and repeat. Some units will start displaying injuries as they lose health, but otherwise unit animation is quite bland to watch.

Audibly ParaWorld is quite impressive if not repetitive. The background music is beautifully composed and is truly fitting for the game despite its looping tendencies. Battle noises aren’t all too exhilarating, but they do work and help create a battle atmosphere. That said, some bone-crunching (literally) noises when a wild boar charges a scout would have been mighty to witness. When clicking on a building a noise comes up, example being some sort of sawing for the Forester’s Lodge. Personally I found these were a bit long and annoying to listen to when selecting buildings, but they were totally tolerable and it’s only a small dislike of choice on my part. Finally the voices of characters and units when selecting them are far too repetitive and although blasting “You slime!!” on the speakers brings entertaining results within the household, it will eventually drive at your patience until you turn the speakers off (a shame considering the wonderful background music).

While ParaWorld is a very beautiful title both audibly and visually, it only reaches an average status in the gameplay category. While dinosaurs are the most kick ass creatures to pit against each other in war, their addition does not justify the often slow and same-old RTS play we’ve been through for years. The multitude of techs and varieties of units should be enough to garner a try, but not everyone will enjoy this aspect of ParaWorld or consider it enough to overthrow the flaws. For lovers of the slower type of play, take the leap and have a blast – I’m sure you will. For lovers of the quicker-paced RTS titles of today perhaps ParaWorld isn’t your title as you’ll become bored and just go back to whatever you were playing before. The only sure-fire way to know, however, is to try it out yourself.

While it will often get a tad repetitive, for the most part ParaWorld is a stable title with potential.

7.2 out of 10

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