The year is 2014. The humans have spread out among the solar system driven by the need for resources. As the Martian Diplomatic Convoy approaches the moon for an historic meeting with diplomats from Earth to settle their differences, it is suddenly blown out of space by unidentified armed ships. Needless to say war ensued. And this is where you enter, as either the Martian Colonists out to avenge the slaughter of their Diplomats, or the Earth forces out to get those upstart colonists back in line.
Hegemonia: Legions of Steel is a space-based real time strategy depiction of the struggles between the forces of Earth and Mars for supremacy. Your basic unit of maneuver and combat is the squad (group of ships). You build squads and refit these squads as they take damage and loose ships.
There is no tutorial so you are left to flounder through your first several sessions until you figure out the game interface (and any that have read my reviews in the past know just how much I love games with no tutorials). The manual is marginally helpful in this endeavor, but who looks at the manual before starting a new game these days? In any case, the single player campaigns (as you can play as either the Martian or Earth faction) start off slow giving you a chance to become familiar with the system. I also found the in game help to be quite useful. In either case, after a few rounds with the game the controls will get familiar and you will have an easier time maneuvering your forces and doing battle with the baddies.
Just beware, for as the title states, this is a highly scripted set of campaigns and the commander of the mission has no sense of humor what so ever, and is not averse to yelling at you when you stray from the course. I think it was the initial scenario that I found this out. You have a really boring mission to guide some scientific ship into close proximity of the sun. So I used the slow pace as a time for exploring the interface and seeing how my squad of ships responded to various commands. Needless to say I strayed from the desired path, which in this case meant I got too far ahead of the ships I was supposed to be escorting and the mission commander started hollering at me to get back to the ship. To the point that I gave serious consideration to seeing if I could blow up the scientific ship!
I thought better of it and continued my experiments. I had just barely enough time, due to being so far away from the ship, to get my squad to the asteroid that threatened to obliterate the scientific ship and blow it into space dust less than 20 seconds from impact! I do not know if you can actually fail a mission from straying to far from the script, but the mission commander sure does not like that at all.
There are two basic screens that you will spend the lion’s share of your time in. The tactical display, where you can see and command the ships in your squads and the larger strategic display where you can see more of the area you are working in and can also give commands to the squads under your control. But be sure to switch to the tactical display during combats as the graphics are very well done and they are fun to watch.
The game mechanics are not that difficult to pick up and you will relatively quickly be able to perform the operations required to successfully complete the missions. Sometimes though, the missions are not very well explained. One of the early missions was to place a mining ship at an asteroid and set up mining operations.
It seemed easy enough. I sent out my squads to scout the area and keep it free of marauding Marshan craft. I sent out the miner to the nearest asteroid and . . . failed the mission? Huh? Second try, send out squads, send out miner (being especially careful that it does not run into anything and does not get intercepted by enemy craft) and . . . fail again? Huh?
Third time around I take a REALLY close look at the strategic screen and notice a faint red outline around one of the possible mineral asteroids that are visible. And this was not the closest asteroid by any stretch of the imagination. Scout out THAT area, send the mining ship to THAT asteroid and – TADA – successfully finish the scenario. They do not always make things obvious or easy in this game.
You start each scenario with a certain number of squads and seem to always need just one more. So when I got a message in one of the scenarios that I had found a squad of ships and to go out and pick them up I got all goose bumpily. I find the squad on the screen and send one of my squads over to the area. Get up REAL close to it and . . . nothing. Hmmm. Fly around it and try and fly through it in the hopes of activating this newly found squad . . . nothing. Hmmm. After several other attempts to get it under control I say to myself, "Ok if I can not have it no one will and attack it!" I receive a new message that I have taken control of the new squad. DoH!
So basically you have a very pretty game with a very linear and scripted path to follow. Still, if you are a die hard fan of space-based real time strategy games or just want to kick around with a new game, you may find this one worthwhile. I gave it 3 and 1/2 GiN gems. It has very nice graphics and I did actually enjoy myself once I worked out the kinks. However, I am afraid that the majority of gamers will find this sitting on their ‘old game’ pile quite quickly.