Blending the space-sim and RTS genres almost flawlessly, the gameplay of Allegiance is extremely addictive. A single contest can rage for hours on end. There's nothing like having a Cruiser full of turret gunners rampaging through the solar system. The space-flight physics will be a bit foreign to those used to turning on a dime in First-Person Shooters, but it doesn't take long to adjust the laws of inertia. Hotshot pilots definitely make their mark, but having the stronger team strategy will almost always win the day. With games boasting player counts in excess of 100 participants, the chaotic wars that can ensue will have you coming back for "just one more game".
What would a team-based game be without its hard-core teams? In the nature of Quake Clans, EverQuest Guilds, and Tribes.. uhhh.. Tribes, there are already Allegiance Squads being formed. Because of the enormous depth of the game, teams that are familiar with playing together will have a definite advantage. Within these squads, player roles will become more defined and lend to the improvement of their overall effectiveness. Still, there's plenty of fun to be had in the "freelancer" games.
Since the game is still currently in beta, it of course has its share of bugs. Random lock ups and disconnection's are not all that uncommon. I've also suffered some sound issues and even experienced what appeared to be some sort of memory leak that slowly brought my machine to a standstill. Problems like this, however, are to be expected at this stage of development, and Microsoft has a decent reputation of releasing quality, stable game software (note I said GAME).
So what's the verdict?
If Allegiance is any indication of the talent involved with the Microsoft Research Games crew, then the industry has much to look forward to. No doubt, the game's merger of the Space-Combat and RTS genres is groundbreaking and will appeal to a broad audience. There's plenty of depth to go around, yet it's simple enough for Joe Gamer to dive in and enjoy some good'ol shoot-em-up madness. Chalk one up for MSRG.
Rob "RJCombo" Garrett
Table of Contents:
Overview | The Hardware | Graphics/Sound | Final Analysis
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