Gromada: A Child’s First Strategy Game

Many of us have played strategy war games where we take command of an entire army and do as we please with them in order to complete certain objectives — whether they may be to totally demolish the enemy or to perform specific strategic activities. Well, picture a game just like that, but instead of directing an army, you alone are on the battlefield against the enemy. You don’t have any army backing you up or buddies to clear the way for you. It’s just you and your vehicle plowing down the enemy. That is Gromada.

Sounds pretty cool huh? Well, I think it is. It’s a different twist on gaming of this sort. Usually the strategy war games focus on you directing an army and your character is not actually involved in the battle. That is what makes this game so interesting. In Gromada you are actually moving yourself through the missions and performing the tasks you need to accomplish by yourself. This makes you feel more actively involved in the game and creates a more thrilling experience.

The storyline of the game is something I really didn’t expect. The story wasn’t clearly illustrated in the game itself (which I found a little odd because it could’ve been easily incorporated through some movie clips and this storyline could’ve had some really cool movies). I had to turn to the instruction manual which explains the whole situation and what the game is about with full illustration.

As it turns out, the game is about an unnamed scientist who is supposed to be you. He is working for some high tech weapons project on the planet Gromada for the government. He designs a super tank called the Kassandra. This is the vehicle you end up piloting throughout the game. It is one heck of a tough war machine. This scientist becomes extremely obsessed with his creation. He is literally in love with it.

Working with the scientist in the lab is a girl named Anna. They become attracted to each other and work together on the Kassandra project. Then the day comes when he is supposed to show this Kassandra in a test combat situation to a government commission. This is when things get messed up.

During the test the scientist finds his new girlfriend, Anna, putting the Kassandra in the fire of a sentry gun on the testing field and enabling the self-destruct command. Kassandra gets hit and explodes so the test looks like a failure to the commission. As you can imagine, this guy is a little mad at Anna. He beats her up a little bit and finds out that she isn’t human”she’s an android. They have a little scuffle and the scientist runs away to his Kassandra. It turns out that the android was sent to sabotage this secret weapon by a race of aliens that are now invading the planet Gromada since the only resistance, the Kassandra, has been destroyed.

The Kassandra’s creator is heartbroken over the destruction of his machine. He is now unemployed because of his failure and he will not be allowed to work in special weapons again. He feels like there is nothing left for him to do. Then he realizes that the Kassandra isn’t totally destroyed. He remembers that during the construction he had not finished fully installing the self-destruct because there wasn’t enough time.

This is the point where he goes a little crazy. He gets in his crippled tank and decides he is going to show those aliens just how mad he is that they tried to demolish his machine. He plans to show them what his Kassandra can do to their invading army. And thus, the game Gromada begins”.

Now I hate to disappoint all of you really hardcore gamers out there but this game was not made for you. Bethesda Softworks took another unexpected turn and made this game into a game for kids and parents. It is geared towards the idea that it can be played by both children and adults and everyone can have a good time.

Bethesda Softworks tried to keep Gromada as simple as they could to make it, so it would be more fun for the less experienced of gamers. The controls are not complicated at all, just simple right and left clicks of the mouse and using the numbers 1-4 on the keypad to move and shoot. These give you sufficient maneuvering ability and attack possibilities in order to complete missions without hassle and with few control difficulties. The simplicity here is a definite strongpoint, considering the audience for which the game is designed.

The graphics are the next part of the game I looked at. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to think about the in-game graphics. They reminded me of the graphics in the game Starcraft. The game has that colorful and cartoonish sort of look”it lacks the highly 3D appearance of most games these days. At first I wondered why Bethesda Softworks wouldn’t make the game as detailed and 3D and realistic as possible but it makes sense when I again considered the game’s intended players. The graphics are by no means bad, but they are not what I feel the game is capable. But when you think about it, the more detailed and intense the graphics become, the more serious and ominous a game can appear. Intense 3D graphics can also cause major confusion in strategy games so I decided it was good that Bethesda kept the graphics at a “friendly” and simple, yet effective level.

One thing I must note as a definite plus for this game is the lighting effects. The lasers make wonderful light patterns on the ground as they are fired and as they hit their targets. The teleportation gates make very unique blue light patterns on anything that moves under them. The lighting brings a sense of futuristic fighting to the game in the sense that the lasers cast glows and there are sparks and shocks of all sorts.

The sound in Gromada is what I would call average. Nothing too stunning here. There are the conventional laser and explosion sounds that are constantly heard but there is nothing that really impresses me. The only sounds I hear are the turning of wheels and treads, the bleeps of lasers, the bangs of cannons and AA guns, and the sound of an explosion. Those sounds are used constantly and they become a little boring. I think more variety of noises could and should have been included in Gromada.

The most important part of a game review is the gameplay. As I have already noted, this game is one in which you are only controlling your Kassandra as you move through the levels, called arenas, and take on the various enemies. Each arena has a mission objective that you must complete in order to move on, just like any other game. The interesting thing about Gromada is that it makes it seem as if each arena is simply a test for you to try. My take on this is that the objectives fit the thinking of the scientist you are portraying. He seems to feel his machine is superior and that combat is just a test of its abilities.

The enemies in the game vary quite a bit. There are helicopters that drop highly explosive bombs on you from above; rocket tanks that fire seeking rockets; tanks that fire cannons at you; turrets that can fire either cannons or missiles; and even a giant mortar that emerges out of the ground to hurl big bombs into the air that come plunging down all around your Kassandra. But you also have plenty of weaponry to use for yourself. You can arm your Kassandra with weapons ranging from AA cannons for blowing helicopters out of the sky or laser cannons for riddling enemy tanks with electricity. All of that makes for some gameplay that will have you glued to the screen. It isn’t complicated at all and it is so easy to monitor your ammo supplies and equip your monstrous machine with the weapons of your choice. Bethesda did a good job making it suitable for kids of all ages.

Overall I’d say this game accomplished what it set out to do: allow beginner gamers to have a strategy and war game that they can handle and is easy to play. I gave it a rating of 4 1/2 GiN Gems because I feel that almost all of the aspects of the game are at about the level they should be except for the sound quality. All the categories — sound, graphics, gameplay, controls, story, and even entertainment — are simple enough for kids to enjoy but still interesting enough to keep older gamers intrigued and working their way through each arena of Gromada.

I just want to make one last little note before I conclude this review. If you are playing Gromada and you are having difficulties handling those little floating mines that follow you if you get too close then I have just the trick for you. What I do is go close enough to them so that they’ll follow me. I make sure I get a bunch following me. Then I slowly run away so they can keep pace. They eventually bunch up together while they are slowly moving towards you. When they do that just start shooting them because once you blow one up it will immediately detonate all the others. I don’t know why, but I found doing that so very satisfying. Enjoy Gromada.

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