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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


 




         

 

 

Real world combat comes alive on the PC with the latest release from ZuxxeZ Entertainment, World War III: Black Gold. Determine the fate of planet Earth as you take control of three different armies and battle it out with current-day military technologies and armaments in this highly detailed Real-Time Strategy game. Fans of modern warfare and tactics will no doubt be impressed by the over 100 different real life structures and units that are available in World War III: Black Gold, giving the player the ability to command units specific not only to the US Military, but also their Russian and Iraqi counterparts as well. Superb graphics, fully explorable 3-D environments with multiple combat landscapes, and extensive campaigns with numerous playable missions are only just a few of the positive attributes that are to be found within this wartime strategy release.

From the creators of the Real-Time Strategy games Earth 2150 and The Moon Project comes a more down-to-earth and realistic version of modern day warfare that meshes current day military technologies and weaponry with one of the strongest RTS gaming environment to date. The latest release from Austrian game developers ZuxxeZ and publisher JoWood, World War III: Black Gold puts the player in command of three real life Armies, each with their own real-world arsenal of weaponry and equipment, and allows them to dictate the fate of Earthís citizens and resources as they see fit.

World War III: Black Gold plays roughly the same as most modern RTS game titles released within the past year and a half, and is relatively easy to begin playing from the start. With the games intuitive training levels (available for each of the three campaigns/armies) and simple learning curve, most novice players should be able to master most of the intricacies found within the command console and unit/structure base found within World War III: Black Gold after only a few lessons.

After the initial training sessions, the game plays out like a modern warfare drama in both venues of action and storyline. Set in the not-too-distant future, players take control of three different Nationís armed forces in an all out battle to control Earthís most valuable resource : crude oil. The three available armies to wage war with hail from the United States, Russian, and Iraq respectively, and have over 30 different real-world units, structures, and tactics that can be used during various phases of combat. World War III: Black Gold contains its own lengthy campaign based around each of these three armies, giving the player the viewpoint of combat from that particular sides location, stance, and political attachment. Each Nationís campaign contains roughly 10 separate missions set in real world locations and terrains.

The realism surrounding World War III: Black Gold is actually quite entertaining, yet frightfully close to reality at times. The developers at ZuxxeZ have gone to great lengths to give a their latest RTS game an extremely realistic feel, from the in-game vehicles and weapons, right down to the lands battled upon. Again, all of the structures, units, and weapons can be found today within each armies real-world arsenal. From the US forces Blackhawk Helicopters and Stealth Bombers, to the Iraqi SCUD missle systems and 1950ís Jeep transports: each in-game unit has the traits and abilities of its real-world counterpart. All modeling within the game is also quite detailed as well, giving another boost to the overall realism of the game. This detail is especially evident when the available 3-D zoom option is activated on the mouse, allowing the player to zoom in so close to their units that you can actually see the detail on their mounted weaponry (most noticeable on the HumVee Mortar units).

World War III: Black Gold contains some of the latest advances to be found in the RTS genre of games, including a fully rotateable and modifiable 3-D terrain (allowing you to move in from a 2-D level to a 3-D viewpoint at will during the game as well as change the terrain with heavy equipment), a real-time multiplayer voice recognition system, in-game Day and Night time cycling, Weather cycling, a sophisticated underground trench and tunneling system, and electronic battle systems that allow for eavedropping and computerized firing control. Some other interesting points found within its gameplay include technology tree research, the ability to define custom vehicles based on already existing parts, available camouflage and jamming systems, and enemy unit commandeering. Up to 8 players can join in on multiplayer battles via the internet or LAN for those inclined to blow up friends and family, and the available Map Editor single handedly adds to the replayability of the game, allowing the player to customize and share maps scheme and battle areas.

Overall, World War III: Black Gold is a solid RTS title and a fun game to play. A solid graphics package, intuitive enemy AI, and the use of real-world weapons and armor allow this title to stand out among other games within the genre. The only issues that came up during gameplay were the high resources needed to run the game (Pentium III 450 chipset with a 16 Meg Video card and 64Megs of Memory were recommended and needed in this reviewers opinion) to fully appreciate all that has gone into the development World War III: Black Gold. The game was also not the easiest one to win, taking up large amounts of time to complete most of the game's thirty missions, even on the Beginnerís difficulty setting.