Earth 2150 - Lost Souls
by Oxygen Interactive
Every genre has a dark horse, a title that isn't one of the celebrated bunch and yet is a classic in it's own right. For the RTS genre that dark horse would have to be Earth 2150. Earth 2150 was the first RTS game to successfully use a 3D engine, in fact it is still one of the best 3D RTS games on offer. Day and night cycles were also a feature of this remarkable game. It had all the ingredients of the top RTS games and these were refined and blended to create what must be considered, in many ways, to be one of the most complete and satisfying RTS games of all time. Of course it didn't come from Blizzard or Westwood Studios and didn't get the sales or publicity that it truly deserved. Those who bought the game though were impressed and still champion it's cause to this day on the Internet.
Earth 2150 - Lost Souls is actually the third game in the series, Moon Project being the second. Like Moon Project there are three factions in the game, the Eurasian Dynasty, United Civilised States and Lunar Corporation. To some that might not sound like a great deal but when you consider that these factions are vastly different from each other and actually demand extremely different playing styles, you can appreciate the detail that has gone into each faction. As with all strategy games balance is crucial and the factions are all well balanced with no faction overpowering the other two which is extremely important in skirmish and multiplayer games.
For those of you that didn't experience either Earth 2150 or Moon Project, you might be surprised by the depth that is on offer in Lost Souls. You are not confined to pre-constructed units and there is the possibility to tinker with unit components and create your own unique units. The process of creating your own units is rather similar to the one used in Alpha Centauri where you combined chassis, weapons etc. to give yourself a unit with the desired properties. Like most modern RTS games, the units behaviour can also be assigned to suit your style of play. Lost Souls also features a day and night cycle and all the strategic possibilities that this entails. Units such as tanks are fitted with lights which can be turned off if a covert approach is required. Of course all, and many more, of these fantastic features where in the prequels but that doesn't make them any less impressive this time around.
The games graphical look is very similar to that used in Earth 2150. Of course when Earth 2150 was released it looked very impressive but with a lot of RTS games now being in 3D it doesn't seem quite so impressive. What Lost Souls' game engine has in it's favour though is that it is very slick and doesn't hog your CPU like almost every other 3D RTS. What really impressed me with the game engine is the weapon fire and smoke and explosion effects. These effects are absolutely brilliant and quite frankly shame those found in most RTS games. The game features dynamic weather conditions and these are beautifully depicted.
The game features a campaign for each of the factions. Rather impressively a tutorial is included for each faction. Tutorial messages and objectives are all given completely in text. The introduction to the game features some verbal information that sets the scene for the game but this is, sadly, unsubtitled. All text information that you are given during a tutorial or campaign can be recalled by clicking the menu button at the bottom of the screen and selecting goals. As with other RTS games, the verbal unit confirmations that you receive when you give orders are not subtitled. There are some messages such as 'new resource field located' that are not subtitled too. Of course this doesn't spoil the game for deaf gamers but it would be nice to see all aspects of the game subtitled.
Earth 2150 - Lost Souls is a deep and challenging RTS game. It's been the trend recently to streamline strategy games and make them more appealing to newcomers. Of course Lost Souls may be at odds with this new way of thinking because it's a strategy gamer's game. Yes it's complex but it is also fun and rewarding. It's also very good value for money too. With a nice array of single player skirmish and multiplayer modes (for which there's a load of maps to play on and a map editor to create your own) to complement the three campaigns, you could be playing this game for months, possibly years to come.
Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10 Earth 2150 Lost Souls is a strategy gamer's game in that doesn't shirk depth in order to appeal to the masses like so many games have done recently. A challenging and enjoyable game.
Deaf Gamers comment: There is some verbal content that is not subtitled but thankfully there is nothing missing that is harmful to the gameplay.