Mission: Humanity is Inhumane

Mission: Humanity
Reviewed On
Available For

Mission: Humanity is a misnomer for this dud; a more accurate name would be Mission: Inhumanity. It’s inhumane that this game would be foisted upon the game-consuming public as a completed product.

M:H is a real-time strategy game in the mold of Starcraft, although that is as far as the comparison holds.

Visually, the game is a good five years out of date, maybe more. Realistically, it is on par with the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. The units are small and indistinct and the terrain is relatively featureless. Given their tiny size and lack of serious animation, it is often difficult to determine quickly what units are doing (or even what they are). In general, the colors are terrible, odd shades of blue, pink and green abound. The sound in the game is not significantly better. There are only a small number of voices for all units (three, I believe), and they wear on you quickly. There is a hip tech sound track, but even it begins to grate on one’s nerves.

As a fan of strategy games, I am willing to put up with poor graphics and irritating sound if the gameplay is excellent. No such luck here.

There are only four different unit types in the game, and you only get three of them for most of it. Worse yet, only two of those are useful, Jeeps and Infantry. The rocket units attack, while longer-ranged, are too weak to really matter. There are a variety of buildings, but nothing that would impress anyone who has played the original Command & Conquer.

The real killer in the game is the horrible AI. It is stunningly bad. Your units tend to cluster together (there are no formations or stances) and rarely do anything when attacked. Target selection is pretty much random – anyone playing this game will find themselves repeatedly ordering units to attack a target, since many will ignore your orders the first few times. Others will get bored and wander off.

Pathfinding is also a cause for despair. Units bunch up, form long columns, walk into obstacles, attempt to circumnavigate the globe and so on. Micromanagement of your units is a necessity. However, even the best players are going to have numerous situations in which intricately set-up assaults fall apart because their units head off in bizarre and unexpected directions. Anyone who is familiar with the 1970’s era electronic football games will experience painful flashbacks.

I was originally impressed that there are four different resources. That didn’t last long; it turns out they all come from the same mine, using the same building, more or less simultaneously, although you can adjust the order in which they are collected by cunningly placing the mine This last feature seems only to have a marginal effect. While units and buildings do have varying resource requirements, there is basically no strategy to collecting them.

I have to say that for all these drawbacks, the real insult is that Eon didn’t even bother to do the easy things. There is an interesting set of cutscenes, but they seem unrelated to the game as a whole and add little to it. The game’s background is purely nominal: aliens wiped out Earth; human survivors fight back. There is no effort to flesh the background out; what you read on the back of the game box is about it. The situation is even worse with the campaigns – there is no campaign briefing and no scenario briefings. None. How hard would it have been for a single designer to spend an afternoon writing them up?

There is a tutorial, but it is extremely limited. Only the most basic aspects of the game are covered. There is nothing more than how to place buildings and command units. It looks like it was programmed in about 10 minutes.

Another unusual point (in a recent game) is that in the final human mission, you get to invade the alien base, using a very different system from the rest of the game. I don’t understand why the designers make you go through the entire campaign in order to play a poor man’s version of the interior Starcraft battles.

It probably goes without saying that there are no difficulty levels, stand-alone scenarios, multi-player support, mission editors or in fact anything else that would give the game even the remotest hint of replayability. There are two races, humans and aliens, but they are basically identical.

Eon Digital did attempt several relatively novel ideas that could have added something to the genre. Each scenario in the campaign (I only played the human side – it was all I could take) never really ends " you can continue to mine the planet and transport its resources to the next planet you are fighting on. While this is an interesting feature, the limited resources of each planet pretty much eliminate its usefulness.

Additionally, the gameboards in M:H aren’t your usual square – each world is an actual globe, meaning you can travel all the way around. There are two problems with this. The first is that the planets themselves are tiny. It is commonplace to extend your main village to the point where it circumnavigates the globe. Additionally, the global nature of the maps doesn’t interface well with the mini-strategic map in the game; finding a particular point without scrolling to it manually is difficult the first few times you play the game.

Overall, this game screams "contractual obligation," as if the designers were under contract to produce, and just cranked it out as quickly and minimally as possible. If this was an early beta or a proof-of-concept project, it might be salvageable by the time it’s completed. As a finished game in commercial release, it is astoundingly bad. This game really wouldn’t be worth installing if it was given away free. There is too much else in the bargain bins that is dramatically superior. It earns a pitiful 1/2 GiN Gem rating, never quite achieving even a minimally acceptable standard.

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