British publisher Digital Jesters is making something of a name for itself with amiable oddities like TrackMania, and has announced this morning that its latest charge, Savage: The Battle for Newerth, will debut in the UK on February 27th.
Developed by S2 Games, Savage is a peculiar and genuinely innovative little real-time strategy/first-person shooter hybrid, in which most of the players handle first-person warrior units while one plays the game from a god's eye view, directing up to 10 peon-style NPC worker units, and issuing orders to the group.
It really is a strange thing to play, but the way it borrows elements from all sorts of genres - XP/levelling from MMORPGs, melee combat reminiscent of Jedi Knight swordplay, and of course the RTS/FPS staples that form its core - is refreshing and, played with the right people, one of the most absorbing games of the year so far. It also has lovely grass effects (and lots of grass).
However reviewers faced with the game in the States (where it came out late last year), and some early critiques over here, have remarked that the game really, really needs a tutorial mode, or a single-player mode, and I'd agree. But although S2 hasn't promised to roll it into one of their massive patches yet (which, given the scope and complexity of the game their two programmers have been charged with maintaining, isn't altogether surprising), today's press release indicates that the European version of Savage will ship with a 64-page official strategy guide. Given that it's not the sort of game you can easily "spoil", that's a very bright move.
What's more, the European version will include exclusive maps, and a mod called "Samurai Wars" which radically alters the game's original premise. On top of that, it will include a bonus disk featuring mods, skins, maps and tutorials courtesy of the US Savage community, and free clan server vouchers for Jolt.co.uk.
We'll be extremely interested to see how Savage is received in Europe, and we'll be reviewing it sometime in the near future (probably next week), so stay tuned. If you fancy acclimatising yourself, do check out the demo (list of mirrors) but also bear in mind that this one doesn't yield the sort of instant gratification you get from most FPS titles. Persist though, and it's a rewarding experience. More on Savage soon.