|Rise and Fall of Stainless Steel|
TomChick - News - 06/14/06 - Link
I wasn't a big fan of Stainless Steel Studios' Empire Earth. But their second game, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, was a really clever twist on tired historical RTSs. Assuming their games continue that trajectory, the third one, Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War, should be pretty good. No such luck. Here's the review if you're interested in more details.
Shortly before being finished, Stainless Steel closed down. I've heard varying accounts about why and how this happened, but they're beside the point. Midway finished up the game and released it this week. Given its rocky development, it's not surprising that it's as bad as it is.
It's impossible to tell whether this is because the developers couldn't pull it off or because it wasn't finished by the people who started it. Or some combination of the two.
But regardless of what ended up on my hard drive, I'm convinced that Stainless Steel's design doc was pretty good. There's a unique naval game with a lot of potential, a rare disposition towards actual siege warfare, and a neat map control concept. It's biggest bullet point -- playable heroes that let you jump onto the battlefield and be the anger of Achilles, or whomever you may have chosen -- plays pretty brainlessly, but it does work well in the context of the overall design. It could have been so much better. I'm looking forward to someone getting the "be the hero!" idea right.
And whoever it was at Stainless Steel who came up with those ideas, and whoever gave Dawn of the Modern World its nifty twists, I hope those people manage to find work someplace where their ideas can make it into better games.