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No Man's Land PC CD-ROM

Published by CDV
Developed by Related Designs
Released: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Not too long ago we looked at the preview version of No Man's Land. The game, like American Conquest, is concerned with the establishment of America as a nation. No Man's Land is a RTS that covers three different aspects of early American history, through three different campaigns, and while the gameplay mechanics are the same throughout, the campaigns stories come from different perspectives. Let's take a look at CDV's latest RTS.

As with most RTS games the main focus is on the single player campaigns. There is a campaign for the Spanish, Woodland Indians and the English. The Spanish campaign is concerned with the conquest of the new world and dealing with the English and Native Americans. The Woodland Indian campaign is all about the defence against the intruders that have come from across the seas. The English campaign is about the settling of America by the English immigrants. There are 30 missions in total with the 3 campaigns and although none of them are historical they have been nicely done. There are two difficulty levels for the campaigns, normal and difficult. The preview version had four if I remember correctly so it's strange that two have been cut.

Aside from the 3 campaigns there are also 6 different games that can be found under the category of Own Game on the main menu. You have a choice of Deathmatch, Eliminate Heroes, Domination, King of the Hill, Destroy/Defend Railroad Tracks and a Railroad Building race. This is an impressive range of games, that can be played against the AI or human competition, and you can even choose the pre-made maps or even create a random map to play on. You have a choice of 6 races (Spanish, English, Settlers, Patriots, Woodland Indians and Prairie Indians) and each of these races have their own strengths and weaknesses although they all seem to be fairly balanced, which is important in skirmish games.

Anyone who has played a RTS title over the last few years will be instantly familiar with the controls in No Man's Land. As you would expect a lot of modern RTS conventions have remained. Double clicking on a unit will select all units of that type; when creating new units you can shift-click to create 5 units per click; idle workers can be selected by clicking on the idle worker button and workers are also smart, that is to say when they create a resource building they'll begin work instead of just standing around. Of course there are some promising new items in here too and it was interesting to note that you can make your military units hide underwater to avoid detection by your enemies. You can also hire bounty hunters to assassinate one of you rivals important figures. It's great to see that you can use stealth and cunning rather than just brute force that is so often the case in RTS games.

No Man's Land reminds me, visually speaking, of both Warcraft III and Age of Mythology. Like the aforementioned games the cutscenes use the game engine and the transition from one to the other is smooth and pleasing. There's lots of nice little touches such as the trees swaying in the breeze and footprints being left in the snow, and very effective waves crashing into the shore. You can spin the camera through 360 degrees, if you disable the camera lock in the game options, as well as being able to zoom the view in, you can also change the pitch of the camera too. which should be of great use when you are trying to be stealthy.

In the preview version we looked at it appeared that there was no problems for deaf gamers with No Man's Land. Whilst for the most part this is true there a couple of circumstance where subtitles are not provided. The intro to the Spanish campaign is not subtitled which is strange as all the other dialogue in the campaign is subtitled. Once in a mission everything, apart from unit answers/confirmations, is subtitled. There are occasional warning bells that indicate you are being attacked and these warning noises are not shown visually. Messages that appear onscreen can be recalled whenever you need them which is always a plus, especially when the messages are important. The game's cutscenes use the game engine and during a cutscene the screen goes into a letterbox format with the text being displayed in the black borders which gives maximum clarity. The character who is speaking is highlighted too, which is brilliant.

I've certainly enjoyed playing No Man's Land but in all honesty if you're looking for something wildly different from the tried and trusted RTS formula then you may be a little disappointed. The novel skirmish games and the inclusion of bounty hunters etc. are certainly welcome features but taken as a whole the gameplay is very similar to many other titles in the genre. Still there a lot of people who will be happy with this and No Man's Land is certainly an engaging title.

Overall Game Rating: 7.9/10
A solid RTS that doesn't stray too much from the tried and trusted formula. Still the bounty hunters and the different skirmish games make it worth owning.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Mostly OK for deaf gamers with only a couple of omissions.