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What I'm gonna talk about now is probably not an interesting topic for the console users, but nevertheless, I've been planning this for quite some time, I should just get over with it.
During my whole childhood, since the day we got a personal computer(PC), I've always kinda been into strategy games, especially Real-Time Strategy games (RTS). In this blog post I will try to bring out what I feel to be the greatest differences between fast-paced and slow-paced RTS games. I'd like to start with the most obvious aspect - game speed.
1. GAME SPEED
Game speed is usually the most common reason why it can be so hard for RTS newbies to learn the basics of this game genre. Fast-paced games like Command & Conquer franchise games, Warcraft 3, Starcraft series, Dawn Of War and others require a lot of concentration and attention from the very beginning of the game. Even the tutorials can be rather stressful for newcomers to pass. And if they will finally pass the first part of the test and learn the basics, it's usually not enough. At least it was so with me.
What I mean is that when it comes to fast-paced RTS games, the developers make even the easiest AI bots rather into hard enemies to counter for the beginners and not-so-good RTS players. In any game, the bots will build their base up fast, strike early and strike strong. There is a saying that if you can survive the first wave of easiest AI in Starcraft 1, you might actually win the game. But there's the thing, most won't even survive the first wave. And we're talking about the easiest bots here. The only "fast-paced" RTS game that I know of, where easiest bots are actually very easy to beat, is C&C: Generals. I know of no other.
Now, about slow-paced RTS games. These are games where scenarios usually last from a few hours to several. RTS games, that are slow, are usually those, where the players advance through periods of time (also known as Ages), rather than everybody is playing in the same day with the same technology. First battles usually start around the 30th minute, rather than in the first minutes or so, which you can encounter in the previously mentioned fast-paced RTS games.
Games like Rise Of Nations, Age Of Empires and Empire Earth. In these games, players advance through ages slowly, in the meantime, gathering resources, building up armies. Such games are usually recommended for newbies, because the tutorials are easy to learn and it doesn't require so much attention, concentration and speed from a person than the fast-paced games need. And since I've always been a slow player myself, I prefer slow-paced games. Here's also a little video how a game called Rise Of Nations looks:
2. WORLD SIZE
When it comes to games like Starcraft 2, the size of the world where players battle, it's usually rather small. It doesn't matter if the developers create bigger maps; they will also fill those with more players and so the skirmishes will always be arena-sized. Meaning that battle scenes are fast to come and combat is inevitable. And when it comes to fast-paced RTS games, there is no such thing as staying neutral. You fight or you die. Eventually, you'll die anyway.
But it's not the same with games like Age Of Empires 3 and especially Rise Of Nations. The size of world is grand, it's reserves of natural resources, mountains, obstacles and bodies of water create tactical choices for every player. You can use a lake to fortify your village and supply your kingdom with food, while you can use mountains to build walls and create beachheads and strongholds in the middle of nowhere, keeping points of interest under your control. It's something you see a lot in slow-paced strategy games, but it's very rare in fast-paced RTS games.
For example, Rise Of Nations features a lot of map sizes with the biggest being "Big Huge". If played such a map size with only 2 players, it's common that the first true encounter will present itself in the latter of the first 60 minutes or so. And there is no doubt that Rise Of Nations will stay in my vision as the most perfect RTS game out there.
3. EPIC BATTLES
When it comes to battle moments, the armies involved usually consist of small to medium-sized squads in fast-paced games. You don't see an army with hundred heads fighting against another of the same size in the middle of an empty field. No... You see a bunch of sci-fi troops or monsters or spaceships doing some crazy earthshaking action, which lasts for a few minutes and then it's either victory for one or defeat for another.
It's good to express yourself sometimes with these little, yet stressful moments, but I still prefer the epicness of true battles. Scenes of war where there is all sorts of units involved: hundreds of soldiers, tanks, airplanes, ships and other vehicles all stand against another force of similar size, using tactical maneuvers to deceive opposition's tactics and completely and utterly destroy the opposing force.
This something that really brings me back to play these games from time to time, just to witness the raw power of an army of one hundred soldiers, cavalry and air support, rushing into another of the same size. And what's good is that usually, several or more of such events occur during one and the same scenario. Defending a fortress, taking control of a sea or besieging a city - there are a large number of possibilities where such events can take place.
Here's also a little video, how a large battle looks like in Rise Of Nations. And just below, in Age Of Empires 3.
Well, that's all from me today. These were the three aspects I was able to come up with.
Now, how do you feel about fast and slow-paced Real-Time Strategy games?
With best regards,Drym Shyuan, GameInformer Online