Only one thing for it. FULL SPEED AHEAD.
That's all the plot you get. Two robot dudes get yelled at and then fly down to a planet. Fun while it lasted.
Hmm, the robots are grouped into squads. I can't control them individually, even though there are things like cars and grenades lying around that only individual robots can use. Selecting and deselecting units is really difficult. LMB selects, and then another LMB gives a context sensitive order. After giving a single order, the units are automatically deselected. To deselect a unit without giving an order, you need to press space. RMB doesn't seem to do anything.
All the units are unbearably slow. Seems to take a couple of minutes to walk from one screen to another.
You can't build buildings. All the buildings are in predetermined destinations and continually spew out units. Whoever owns the territory when the clock on the building runs out get the unit. The more territories you have, the faster your units are made.
You can choose what kind of units the buildings make, but you can't see the choices unless you click on the building and stop the current production. The vehicle and robot buildings look slightly different. Very, very slightly.
This music isn't very exciting. Music changes depending on what's happening, but it's still not very interesting.
The robot pals are chuffed too, offering congratulations and general whooping and hollering over the intercom.
Gotta love these animated robot portraits...
The robots have a phrase for everything, and they're all animated and synced up to match with the voices. I can recognise all the different phrases just from this animation.
Does anybody else find them a little creepy though? I suppose a death robot with a bright red talking skull for a head'll do that.
On this level, I can make Psychos. They're like Grunts except... um... no idea. Same number of them. Same amount of armour. Seem to shoot the same. Can control vehicles like Grunts. They even have exactly the same voice as the Grunts. They take longer to build though.
The game is really stingy with the units. You really have to know what all your factories are doing are at all times. If there's a single factory producing something useless (and most of them can only produce useless Grunts), then you're in the poop.
I wish there was a Total War like system where you could see what types of troops you had and what they were doing and instantly select them. I could really do with this game having a resolution better than 640 by 400. If you tell a robot to destroy an enemy unit but it gets destroyed, your unit will stop where they are.
It'd really help if I got a grace period to look around the level before it starts. You don't even get to see a preview of the level on the loading screen. All you get is BIG RENDERED ROBOT.
At this point, there's no way to repair destroyed buildings. No tanks for you, blue guys!
At the end of another hard-won battle, the dudes prepare a little backing music for General Zod.
Oh, we do have our fun. When we're not playing Z.
Even with a nine territory, ten unit advantage and three Light Tanks parked right outside the enemy fort and several minutes to go until reinforcements can be built, but I'm sure the game can find some way to mess it up.
My robots are sure eager to take on the fort. "Let's go for it!" "Let's end it now!" "What are you waiting for?" "Let's take the fort!" "They're on the run!" Patience, robot army, patience!
I think the dudes would be less inclined to party all the time if ROAAACK MUSIC didn't pour of Zod's face whenever he speaks.
I had a look at the files and you get exactly the same cutscene at the end of every world... except rendered with different sky and ground texture.
On this level, no unit can enter the lava zones. The tanks can still fire over it. When they feel like it. Without my intervention, this tank-on-tank battle is purely luck. It doesn't even seem to matter who shoots first. If you can get your tank to keep moving out of the way of enemy shots, you stand a chance.
By this point I've started saving and loading when a mini-battle doesn't go my way.
I think it was more fun to play against the stupid computer players of Command and Conquer and Red Alert. They can be fooled. The game doesn't feel like Command and Conquer at all. The Z AI has complete awareness of the battlefield. Every unit, every building. There's absolutely no room for error. It's like playing multiplayer. I hate playing RTS multiplayer.
That was... lucky.
I'm not learning anything useful from these battles. It's no fun at all.
You can tell what units are good against what by ordering the attack anyway. If your robots don't like it, they'll yell "No way!" "You've gotta be joking!" and then do it anyway.
A robot that's under attack from off-screen will yell stuff like "JESUS CHRIST HELP." "THEY'RE ALL OVER US" even if it's a tank being attacked by a single robot. All the robot types use the same voice, which is a great help in identifying who's under attack. To go directly to an off-screen attack, you can either click the animated robot portrait while they're talking (hoping that some other robot won't interrupt) or click the A button.
You can cycle between robots, vehicles, buildings and gun emplacements by clicking the R, V, B and G buttons. No, you can't press the R, V, B, G, A, T, D or Z keys on the keyboard to do the things that the on-screen buttons say. That would be too easy.
It took some coaxing, but I managed to turn my order of 'attack that Jeep' from 'follow the road leading North, laterally across three cells of enemy territory, and then shoot the Jeep' into 'just blow up the damn wall and drive towards the Jeep, it'll be okay, trust me'.
Still lost the resulting Light Tank vs. Jeep battle. And while I was babysitting my tank, the rest of the battle went to crap around me.
"It's over. We hate you."
Yeah, I hate you too.
Thanks to their expertise and attention to detail, Z is exactly what the Brothers intended it to be. It's clear they don't ever make mistakes or leave things half finished. If one of their games is rubbish, it's because their idea was bad. Well, okay, The Chaos Engine 2 was both half-finished and a bad idea, but Z isn't half-finished, it's just lacking in the niceties that would allow a human player to compete on the same level as the computer.
If you happen to be a robot and you don't find the idea of blowing up fellow robots offensive, you might enjoy Z!
Bitmap Brothers games:
Part 1: Xenon (Atari ST)
Part 2: Speedball (Atari ST)
Part 3: Xenon 2 - Megablast (Amiga)
Part 4: Cadaver (Amiga)
Part 5: Speedball 2 - Brutal Deluxe (Amiga)
Part 6: Gods (Amiga)
Part 7: Magic Pockets (Amiga)
Part 8: The Chaos Engine (Amiga)
Part 9: The Chaos Engine 2 (Amiga)
Part 10: Z (MS-DOS)