Version tested: PlayStation 3
PSN, we really missed you. Week after week of hopeful expectation that Sony would resume service went by, and nothing but sullen messages about maintenance. But it's back! Back! [We know, it's been back a while now, but this article got held up by some glorified meeting in America. -Ed.]
The expected content flood hasn't quite panned out the way some of you might have imagined. Wisely, Sony has given us extra helpings, but presumably not all the pending content that would have emerged had things operated normally.
The good news is that most of it is exclusive to PSN, so rather than trawl through a bunch of games we've already played on 360 and PC, we're focusing on the standout titles that are worthy of your attention.
- PSN - £7.19 to PlayStation Plus subscribers. £11.99 to non-members.
18 years ago is officially long enough for Cannon Fodder to be thought of as an old man's game. All the more reason to liberally pinch some of its best ideas and refashion it as an accessible real-time strategy game on console.
Whether Portugal's Seed Studios intended to crib from Sensible's Amiga classic or not, there's a similarly refreshing directness to Under Siege. You point. You click. They fight.
Each level kicks off with a limited number of spawn points, and a goal to fight your way to. At first, you're restricted to burly melee fighters and feeble ranged archers, but as the game progresses a greater range of strategic thinking comes into it. Spawn points increase, and your units level up the longer they survive.
As you'd hope from a console RTS, the controls are concisely designed to make swapping between units instant and intuitive. But this breezy simplicity doesn't stop the AI units from bloodying your nose the moment complacency creeps in to your tactics.
If anything, the learning curve is more savage than you might expect, and you have to be mindful to protect your ranged units at all costs. Your opponents waste no time hacking them into chunks given the chance, and once they're gone, your ability to restore the health of your frontline troops goes with it.
Although the levels tend to be on the short side, it's still a tad frustrating to nearly reach the conclusion and be forced to start over because of one costly error. With a slightly less uncompromising approach, Under Siege could have been a great gateway drug for those otherwise resistant to the allure of RTS - especially with multiplayer and level editing waiting in the wings for those who really get into it.
As it stands, though, Under Siege is a game that requires a degree of patience and tolerance before it truly clicks. If you have the required resolve, there's plenty to admire.