Oil Rush review
You probably won’t be familiar with the developers behind Oil Rush, but if you’re an overclocker you may have heard of their game engine – Unigine has been a firm favourite for testing graphics card stability for some time, but until now it hasn’t been used for many playable games.
Its first major outing takes the form of a naval real time strategy game set in a WaterWorld-style apocalyptic wasteland where the world’s oceans have claimed back almost all the land, leaving humanity to fight for what’s left. The story is fairly generic – as an upcoming commander in the democratic navy, you must suppress a rebel faction that’s trying to take control of the oil rigs that drill the only available natural resources left. It’s also told in an incredibly dry way, with walls of text that fill the screen. It’s not crucial to follow the plot to enjoy the game, so the inclusion of a fast forward button to skip through each scene is more than welcome.
Gameplay is simplistic, as instead of controlling your units individually you can only give them orders as a group. This is mostly done via the mini-map, as the camera angles that change dynamically during combat can make it difficult to select squads using the mouse. There’s very little in the way of tactics, short of choosing how to split your forces between each outpost in order to find the balance between protecting yourself and pushing onwards towards the enemy. However, there’s plenty of tactics involved in sending scouting parties to search for new resources, protecting your own and fighting running battles with your best units.
However, it’s not all action - protecting your base feels more like a tower defence game than an RTS, because the familiar tech tree has been rejected in favour of set upgrades that can be purchased with gathered resources. Choosing between close-range Gatling guns and long range mortars or missile launchers will protect you from different enemy types, but finding the right combination will guarantee your safety from a full onslaught.
As we would expect from Unigine, the graphics are stunning for such a small title. Considering how important a role it plays to the story and gameplay, it’s unsurprising that a lot of work has gone into the water effects, which ripple and glisten realistically in the light. Individual units have plenty of detail, as do the small islands that are scattered throughout each level, but a side effect of a world covered in water is a lack of variety – apart form varying weather and lighting conditions, most maps feel like slightly tweaked layouts of ones you’ve played before.
Audio quality is also impressive, thanks to the pounding heavy metal soundtrack that brings back memories of the classic Command and Conquer games. Gunshots and explosions sound lifelike, but we missed not having any speech – the story would have been a little more tolerable with some well acted voiceovers.
All things considered, Oil Rush is a mediocre single player game that hides its small budget roots rather well. However, take the game online and there’s a much deeper level of gameplay to be found. As long as you don’t expect to find the same tactical depth as Starcraft 2 or Command and Conquer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what Oil Rush has to offer.