Back in 1995, if you hadn’t heard about Command & Conquer, you probably just woke up out of a coma. I don’t know anyone who didn’t own the game or at least played it with friends. After all these years I can still sometimes hear a female voice inside my head saying “building… building… unable to comply”. Command & Conquer is THE game that is responsible for bringing the RTS genre in to the mainstream. Many sequels followed and other series like Starcraft and Total War had their share of the success.
Now 20 years later, we will see if a one man project can compete with the established order. Meridian New World is developed by Elder Games, released by Merge Games, Headup Games and waiting for download on Steam since 04-04-2014. Elder Games is in fact a one man studio. Ede Tarsoly is the genius behind this production and Elder Games. With some help of a couple of friends he managed to create Meridian almost completely alone. It’s the year 3012; earth is heavily overpopulated and resources have become scarce. Daniel Hanson is in command of the first expedition to the planet Meridian. A recently discovered planet very similar to our own earth. On their mission to find out if Meridian is suitable for colonization, they receive an unexpected distress call. This is the beginning of a story of treachery and betrayal. I lost count of the interplanetary colonization games I have seen recently and although this part won’t win the originality prize, the story of the game itself is pretty good and keeps you interested. This isn’t a traditional RTS as you know it, the developer added some RPG elements. The commander can level up 40 plus levels and unlock special skills. The skill tree itself isn’t huge but some skills can be upgraded 5 times.
You will start with a couple of basic units and through research you can upgrade their weapons and improve your army. I personally would prefer to have more choice in the units themselves rather then the guns they are holding. Just for the simple fact that you now have to recognize your unit types by their weapon. Having 15 different vehicles gives a better oversight than 15 identical vehicles with different guns. Unfortunately this has a negative impact on game play. Even if you separate your units, on the battlefield they will unavoidably mix up. Creating platoons would be a solution here. My own humble opinion is, in this day and age every self respecting RTS should have the option of creating groups with a hot key shortcut. Path finding isn’t always what it should be. Two of your units leaving the group to find their own way, surrounding obstacles differently than all other units. There definitely is room for improvement in the game play department. That doesn’t mean it is all bad, it just needs some finishing touches. As far as I know the game still gets updates and patches (latest one last march). And the developer listens to the community so there is a good chance that the final flaws will be polished out. The turrets are great and if you place them strategically they can do a lot of damage and are an almost impenetrable wall. There are skirmish maps where you can fight against up to four enemies. You can create your own maps and download other players maps. The game has a lot to offer.
Graphics are well done. The loading screens and the cut scenes look beautiful. The levels themselves don’t reach that level of attractiveness but they look good and polished, unit movement, explosions, etc. everything is very fluent. I simply love the music in the game. Voice acting is pretty mediocre and the effects are good. All in all you shouldn’t expect a plain RTS game, the leveling system gives the game a twist. Although there is room for improvement, this is an enjoyable game with solid graphics and decent sound. I honestly had fun playing this game and can only show respect to the developer. But sadly it doesn’t reach the qualities of the series we learned to love.