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ParaWorld PC DVD-ROM

Published by Sunflowers
Distributed by Deep Silver
Developed by SEK GmbH
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

ParaWorld, an introduction.

If you think about it, it’s surprising that dinosaur’s haven’t been used more in games. Sid Meier once had plans to release a strategy game based on them (which was shelved) and we had those rather hit and miss Turok games for a few years as well as Monster Hunter on the PSP and PlayStation 2 but for the most part the dinosaur theme is one that hasn’t been pushed as far as it could have been. ParaWorld is a RTS that manages to mix dinosaurs quite successfully into the traditional RTS formula with some interesting results.  

What’s the game about?

ParaWorld is set in a parallel world where warring tribes and dinosaurs exist. In the 19th century a man named Jarvis Babbit and a group of elite scientists formed a secret society known as SEAS. This society was dedicated to searching for parallel worlds that were thought to exist but whose existence had never been proven. After decades of work they soon discover how to use the warp gates that allows passage between this world and the world known as ParaWorld. This alternate world has a happy side effect for the scientists in that it acts as a fountain of youth on them and they appear to have stopped aging. At the beginning of the game three other scientists: geologist Anthony Cole, biologist Stina Holmlund and physics expert Bela Andras Benedek discover there is a parallel world and pay a visit to Babbit. Unbeknownst to them, Babbit lures them into a trap and they end up stuck in ParaWorld.

What’s good about the game?

ParaWorld offers a Campaign mode and a Skirmish mode as its single-player offerings. On the multiplayer side of things you can play Deathmatch, Defender or Domination game modes over a LAN or Internet connection. On beginning the Campaign you have the option of taking the tutorial. Whilst most of what the tutorial teaches is old news for seasoned RTS gamers, it’s worthwhile playing through it as it’s a nice and comfortable introduction to the game. For instance, you’re introduced to the Army Controller, a rather handy panel on the left hand side of the screen that allows you to have complete control of your units. You can see if they're being attacked or whether they are idle and could be given a job to do. A variety of icons are used to inform you exactly what their status is. Units can be sorted and promoted directly from within the Army Controller. If I had to pick the single most impressive aspect of the game it would have to be this rather handy unit organizer.

Putting dinosaurs into a RTS actually works better than you might think. Not only are dinosaurs your enemies but they can also be utilised to help you. Wild dinosaurs you’ll encounter will have to be killed and you’ll also have to destroy their nests to avoid the threat returning. Some dinosaurs are actually make rather useful units such as the Ballista Rhino and the Battle Mammoth. The game comes with three tribes, the Norsemen, the Dustriders and the Dragon Clan. Each tribe has its own unique units and abilities. Later in the campaign you’ll get to choose who to play as. The main characters in the game are Hero units and even if they are killed they can be restored providing you have a tavern built. These units have special abilities and bonuses and can be upgraded. To upgrade you’ll need skull points, which are earned when you defeat enemies. The stronger the enemy the more skull points that are earned. Skull points are not the only resources as you’ll need to keep an ample supply of food, wood and stone to allow you to build structures and units.

There are many artifacts that can be collected and carried around. These artifacts offer special bonuses for your tribe (such as the Ankh of Power which allows your units to cause extra damage and the Ironclad Amulet which increases the defensive power of your units). If the unit carrying the artifact is killed the bonuses will cease. During a mission you’ll have a variety of objectives to complete, some optional and some which are not, and for each one of these you’ll receive points. These points will allow you to purchase units and supplies before you begin your next mission. This is an excellent idea as it encourages you to do as well as you can in each mission rather than simply doing just what you need to do.

What’s bad about the game?

If you’ve become a little tired of the usual RTS formula that seems to have gone unchanged for several years now then ParaWorld isn’t going to be the game to rekindle your interest. Sure the introduction of dinosaurs is a nice touch and there’s no denying that the Army Controller is very handy but underneath, this is a RTS that’s familiar in so many ways. The idea of Hero units is an old one. The same can be said for the idea of moving from one epoch (or age) to another. The single-player game is primarily focused on the campaign and as such a strong story was needed if it was going to impress as a single-player experience. In truth the story isn’t bad but it could have been better. The game’s main characters could also have been more interesting but in fairness we’re dealing with a RTS and not a RPG so it’s not that much of a problem. I would have liked to have seen a scenario or map editor but sadly the game doesn’t include one.

How does it look?

Of late RTS games have begun to look really good, especially if you have the PC specification to run them with the maximum graphical details. ParaWorld simply looks OK and offers the visual quality you would have expected a few years ago. Not that this is a bad thing as such. Most gamers can’t afford the latest and greatest hardware. Our PC has been feeling the strain of late with several games we’ve reviewed but with ParaWorld not being so demanding it’s managed to run without any performance issues. Still there’s no denying that the character models are slightly disappointing and the various cutscenes in the game could have looked much nicer. At times it would have also been nice to have been able to pull the camera out a little more too.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

ParaWorld does offer subtitles but they are disabled by default. Once they are enabled, you’ll find that the game doesn’t really cause any problems for deaf gamers. The cutscenes are displayed in a letterbox format with the text being placed in the lower black border. The subtitles in the cutscenes are simply in white, there’s no colour-coding here, and there are no character portraits or names placed alongside the dialogue. On entering the main game you’ll find all of the tutorial messages are subtitled. All of the important dialogue is subtitled too. The dialogue appears on the right hand side of the screen in dialogue boxes. The character’s portraits and names are placed alongside the dialogue so you’ll know exactly who is talking. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time by clicking the Quest button at the top right of the screen. Text chat can be used during multiplayer games. The game makes good use of icons to relay information, especially on the mini-map and the Army Controller. On the whole then ParaWorld is actually quite deaf gamer friendly.

Final thoughts.

ParaWorld is a good, solid addition to the RTS genre. The most innovative feature has to be the Army Controller which is simply an excellent idea. Having a point system that encourages you to do as well as you can in each mission is also an excellent idea. However most of what you’ll find in ParaWorld has been done many times before. That’s not to say it spoils the game in anyway but when you look at the innovative Army Controller you can see that the developers definitely have the ability to have given us more unique features than what’s here. On the whole it’s an enjoyable game and it’s definitely an effective use of dinosaurs in a RTS game.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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ParaWorld isn't the most innovative RTS game we've seen although we have to say that the Army Controller is an excellent idea and a great way of controlling your units. Those looking for a new RTS game could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of ParaWorld. It may have many features that you've seen plenty of times before but it's still an enjoyable game and that's really what counts at the end of the day.