Stormrise PS3 Review

Whenever an RTS game comes to consoles, the main talking point is always the control method. Will it find an acceptable workaround for the lack of keyboard and mouse control? Or are your fingers going to be tied in knots, due to the sheer demand of it all? The Creative Assembly’s Stormrise is yet another console RTS which is attempting to find a solution to this problem with its unique WHIP select system.

Stormrise takes place in a post apocalyptic world that was ravaged by fierce firestorms centuries before, at which point a select few went underground into cryogenic sleep (what else can you do in such a situation?) whilst the surviving surface dwellers slowly evolved and adapted to their environment.

On the surface, the core gameplay of Stormrise isn’t too far removed from a lot of other RTS games. Obviously it’s all about getting your units set up in the right positions to get the upper hand over your opponent and making use of each units strengths, whilst also taking their weaknesses into consideration. There’s also installations to take charge of, which you can attach turrets to, further improving your defence. You can also upgrade it with a refinery, increasing the supplies that you receive on a second-by- second basis, of which you can purchase additional units with.

From a control standpoint, theoretically, by just moving the stick in their direction WHIP Select allows you to swiftly jump from unit to unit within the blink of an eye, to the level that it’s much quicker than even a good old mouse can manage. To an extent, it’s a very clever idea that works wonderfully well in the heat of battle, but when there are lots of your units crammed together the system has a frustrating lack of precision, making unit selection trickier than it need be. In ways it’s certainly better than most console RTS games alternate method of control, but in others it’s worse.

WHIP select isn’t the only innovation that The Creative Assembly have brought to RTS’s with Stormrise. Whereas most similar games take place on flat battlefields, Stormrise has large multi-tiered environments, opening up some great strategic possibilities, allowing you to strategically post snipers in high locations and giving you the opportunity of making use of some clever flanking manoeuvres. There’s no fog of war either, so what your units can see, you can see as well.

All this grand ambition is great and all but Stormrise is crippled by a number of nasty bugs, which seriously detracts from the enjoyment of the game: path finding for your units is quite simply terrible, with soldiers struggling to walk around a simple wall (we’re supposed to believe that these are well trained killers, way to break the illusion Creative Assembly) whilst other times they opt to take more dangerous routes, when there are much safer options available, resulting in needless losses, worse still is that units will on occasion sometimes drop dead for no apparent reason. All this isn’t helped by a game that is horrifically ugly, and artistically it’s about as dreary as the British weather.

Like any RTS, Stormrise has online play, but, of course, all the problems that exist in the single player do so here too, then there’s also the fact that the servers are currently rather barren. It’s a shame, as the superior level of intelligence of human opponents over the AI, along with all the mechanics, means that on paper, the game has all that’s needed to offer some highly strategic encounters.

Stormrise is almost as clever as it is stupid. When things are functioning as they should, the game is a great strategic offering. But too often the abundance of bugs in combination with its unexciting visuals, conspires to make a game that is not only broken and frustrating to play, but also one that has a lot in the way of wasted potential.