Ravaged by their recent encounters with the same AIs that pushed humanity to the brink of extinction, the Spire are an alien race that have also been all but destroyed. However, while the AIs were successful in their surprise attack against the Spire, the Spire are far more powerful than even the AIs seem to have realized. The Zenith were broken-down and ancient when humanity encountered them, but the Spire were at the height of their deadly power until quite recently.
Now the splintered remains of their race are regrouping, and entering the galaxy with a vengeance. Their attitude toward humanity, who after all spawned the AIs that harmed the Spire so, is unclear. Proceed with caution…
Arcen Games‘ third expansion for AI War: Fleet Command–Light of the Spire–brings even more ship types, campaign modes, and additional inspired music tracks to this already daunting mix of RTS, 4X and Tower Defense game elements.
I am going to proceed with the assumption that you are new to the universe that is AI: War and not among its small legion of devout converts: AI War drops you in the middle of a near-hopeless situation: two vicious AI races, each in command of its own army of drones and bases. Both seek to wipe the floor with the player’s organic material. They both have technology far superior to anything humanity can crank out. They both have expansion on the brain, and your resistance fleet is parked right where they want to build the petting zoo (figuratively, or course – who pets robot chickens?) They will launch semi-continuous attack waves, steadily getting craftier and more destructive. There is no hope for diplomacy. Survival of the human race depends on the total destruction of the AI.
The player’s home world will draw fire as the wicked machines spread out across the galaxy. Players new to the genre can set the AI development at a slow pace, while seasoned vets can ramp up the insanity by taking on a hive-mind that improves at a quicker rate.
Outsmart. Outnumber. Outlast.
Whatever the difficulty, the player must strike a balance between defending his territory and building up fleets of fighter craft for invading neighboring planets. Resources are finite, and merely digging in with the hopes of fending off countless waves of attacks will prove ultimately fatal. Developing a squadron of attack ships is crucial, as is defending any wormholes that lead to enemy galaxies. By probing nearby galaxies, the player can explore potential enemy targets. Once a planet is claimed, the resources around it can be safely harvested for use in the creation of more ships and spaceports.
Through the scientific development of existing human technology, and the careful acquisition of AI tech, a staggering amount of units become available for construction. Unless the player can keep his fleets on the bleeding edge, he’ll end up under it. All of this has to be done with great caution; players who opt to charge into a neighboring galaxy, cannons a-blazing, will find that the overall AI score will improve at an increased rate in response to any actions considered to be threatening. This will mean more advanced raid swarms on the player’s home base, and if the defense squad is still sporting Mark I units, it won’t be long before the human command center topples. Overtaking certain types of AI technology will allow for the creation of better units, but it has to be done carefully, lest the hive-mind receive news of your battle prowess.
Just when the player thinks he has the enemy AI’s playbook mapped out, it changes strategy. The AI works on many levels, from an overall mindset of the race, right down to the actions of individual units, ensuring that the player is always on his toes.
The game requires the use of a great many hotkeys, making for a nasty initial learning curve. Even once these keys are committed to memory, the game demands a slow, methodical approach to development and a quick hand when under attack. Moving too quickly, however, will often result in a brutal trouncing. Knowing what targets to eliminate and how to do this without bringing on too large a retaliation takes finesse and planning. The game also provides a fair sampling of useful tutorials. Here, the concept of “casual” cowers in fear.
2-8 players can enjoy a multiplayer game, though the process of connecting to or hosting a game may require a deeply intimate knowledge of your internet connection. There is no PVP to speak of, so anyone joining the game will also be joined in the task of taking out the enemy AI. Players have the option of selecting the size of the contested galaxy as well. Select a small campaign with 10 worlds, or a massive 80 planet universe. Larger maps will take more time to conquer. Regardless of the size of the game, be prepared to spend several hours on a campaign before achieving victory.
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