Given its innate difficulties, the RTS/FPS sub-genre was always a small niche at the best of times. While it certain had its fair share of hits, the innate difficulties in controlling a massive army without an overhead view was something few developers truly could overcome. Now, years after the original Savage was criminally forgotten, S2 Games have decided to put their own spin on things.
The world on offer here is a mash up of full-fledged science fiction and high fantasy elements. With everything from four-legged mechs to orcs, it offers the chance to engage in both ranged firefights and melee duels at the same time. The unique game structure means you have one person building up the base and ordering about forces, but each player controlled allied unit can perform stunts, movements and kills above that of the average AI controlled mook. This naturally opens up the way for a high skill-ceiling environment, something helped by the wide variety of weapons available to players.
Teamwork and communication here is essential, hinging on everyone doing their job well. That said, there are plenty of points where a team can be carried through a match despite a poor commander or inexperienced allied. Each match offers you the change to gain resources from NPCs or the environment, meaning you can build up your strength if the enemy is initially overwhelming you. Atop of this, the asymmetrical nature of faction specific skills (especially in close combat) means you can gain a slight edge by blocking strikes or bypassing difficult terrain elements.
The downside to playing Savage is an alarmingly low population. If you have ever been frustrated at Overwatch for waiting just a few minutes to get a game, you're going to be gnashing your teeth at this one relentlessly. Even accepting that though, there are more than a few flawed ideas which keeps holding it back. The small maps leave little room for complex manoeuvres, many of the tech-tree elements between factions are identical, and the base building element lacks the complexity of pure RTS titles like Starcraft. None are truly bad enough to destroy the game, but they do relegate a potentially outstanding game into merely being great instead.
After all that, is Savage: Resurrection worth it? Absolutely. While you might have an uphill struggle at first, the end result is a very welcome return to form which is as open to new players as old veterans. S2 Games did a fantastic job with this one, and the end result brilliantly balances two very different genres. If you have any interest at all in blending Halo style combat with C&C base building, this is definitely the game for you.
SAVAGE: RESURRECTION / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: S2 GAMES LLC / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW