Game Reviews

Z The Game

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| Z The Game
Z The Game
| Z The Game

Back in 1996, The Bitmap Brothers released a real-time strategy game that was a little different from its peers.

Eschewing resource-farming and building construction, and promoting territory capture above direct combat, Z became another hit for the hugely successful Wapping-based team.

Fast-forward 15 years and, via publisher Kavcom Limited, the game has found a new home on iOS. With Z following hard on the heels of Speedball 2, Kavcom appears to be ushering in a return to the Amiga era. Perhaps we could hope for Magic Pockets and The Chaos Engine next?

Either way, there’s something refreshing about the return of this old skool RTS. But while its simplicity is appealing in one sense – as well as being a perfect fit for the format - ultimately the game is a little too single-minded and limited to work as well as it once did.

Rise of the machines

Z The Game is introduced by a wonderfully old-fashioned CGI sequence showcasing an anarchic sense of humour that those who weren’t around at the time may be surprised by.

Similar cut-scenes punctuate the action, and partly explain why the game takes up a whopping 349MB of space on your iOS device.

Rather than controlling human troops, you control a squad of robots. It’s reds versus blues, but instead of simply annihilating the enemy your objective is to capture and control sectors on the map before amassing an army capable of taking over your opponent’s base.

With no resources to gather and no buildings to construct there’s a real purity to the action that's initially very appealing.

Tanks a lot

Capturing the flag in each sector simply increases the speed at which your bases pump out new units, allowing you to add vehicles to the empty ones you can grab in the early stages of each stage.

There’s plenty of content here, and the AI offers a substantial challenge. Indeed, some may feel it’s a little too good – it rarely falters, and should you make a mistake it can be difficult to recover.

There comes a point in many battles when it’s best just to restart rather than suffer what can be an awfully drawn-out defeat.

What a drag

The interface can be a little problematic on occasion, too. Controls are generally sensible, but it can be awkward when you try to drag a box to select multiple units and find the display scrolling instead.

Admittedly, this seems less of an issue on iPad, so if you have the choice I’d recommend getting it on that.

Meanwhile, seasoned strategists will find that the absence of a multiplayer option is too much of an obstacle to overcome. Every good tactical game needs the unpredictability and fallibility of a human opponent, and it’s here that Z The Game starts to show its age.

It’s an imperfect version of game that wasn’t ever the Bitmaps’ best, but despite its limitations Z The Game shows enough promise to suggest that future titles from the same studio are worth looking forward to.

Z The Game

Despite a few gaps in its defence, Z is a solid time-killer for the solo strategist
Chris Schilling
Chris Schilling
Chris has been gaming since the age of five, though you wouldn't think it to see him play. Thankfully, his knowledge of the medium is as impressive as his unerring ability to fail at Angry Birds.