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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (462)

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Strange Brigade 4/5
Satellite Reign 3/5
Watch Dogs 2 4/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3/5
Metro 2033 3.5/5
South Park: The Fractur... 4/5
Sundered 3.5/5
Mass Effect: Andromeda 3.5/5
Life is Strange: Before... 4/5
God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5

Next 25

Zero-K   PC (Steam) 

Really Tiring Strategy    2/5 stars

My days of RTS games peaked in the days of Starcraft and Age of Empires II, when I dabbled (ever-so-briefly) in my college days. I really never got that involved in the genre and haven't touched it much since then. That being said, when a local multiplayer version miraculously turned up, our MeltedJoystick crew had to play it (okay, it was mainly one of us - but the rest of us decided to go along for the ride). Having been out of the game so long, however, it turned into a fun experiment to a major drag over the course of the several weeks we toughed it out. Now I have no motivation to try any other modern RTS.

Presentation: The game looks sadly generic - a lot of variety, sure, but nothing that stands out. The units are very similar across the board, the music and effects are mediocre at best and the controls were annoying. I used the classic mouse and keyboard and never got the best handle on how to best control units as I was constantly selecting things I didn't want and attacking - they never attacked what I wanted no matter how hard I tried. In other words, I sucked at controlling this game. The level design was more interesting, at least, giving a somewhat wide variety - with various terrain, water and such but nothing spectacular. Overall I would consider the game serviceable but bland.

Story: There is no overarching story, at least what we played. The campaign consists of a large number of planet, each with their own goals to achieve - passing it in a given amount of time, protecting your commander, destroying certain enemies or building a set amount of certain units are all a part of most campaigns. Each planet unlocks units, defenses and the like - expanding your own arsenal for future levels. That is all - not much outside of winning for your side while making sure the enemy is defeated.

Gameplay: Having been out of the RTS loop for so long, I'm not sure how Zero-K compares to the current model of games. I did enjoy at least one aspect of the game: the variety. There are plenty of units - land, air and sea to choose from - along with different classes (skirmishers, tanks, shield units - etc) to choose from (once they are unlocked, of course). There is a lot of strategy involved in which units and classes are suited vs. other units and classes - but I never really got that deep into it, and I'm sure it is for this reason we never really excelled.

No matter the map, things were fairly straight-forward. You gather metal and energy via builders, create your army via various factories, build defenses (missile towers, lasers and such) and attack the enemy. You have a commander that works as a builder and also has plenty of firepower (once leveled up) to hold its own. But if the commander goes down, you lose, so it's fair to say you want it behind your defenses. Levels have various ways to win - sometimes it's as easy as killing the enemy commander and certain factories, other times you have to bring your commander to a certain spot or take out specific defenses. Because you unlock units as you go, levels also cater to specific units with some taking place on the water and others on difficult terrain. It at least has some variety to keep things interesting when it's not frustrating.

And it does get frustrating. Our group started on normal difficulty and it worked - for a week or two until we hit a wall where the enemy was just too much - and levels that should have taken 15-20 minutes instead lasted for an hour or two as we failed several times - and were lucky to complete one or two planets at a time. So we knocked the difficulty down to easy - and that worked for a week or two, until we again hit a wall and this time it was too much and decided the tedium wasn't worth it and just turned it in and called it a day.

Replayability: I mean, from the way we played the game, the only incentive in going back is to get all the level goals, but it seems like it isn't really worth the effort. But if you're into this game (and RTS in general) I can see a niche audience going back again and again - but not me.

Overall: If you are a fan of the RTS genre and can spend the time and effort honing your strategy, this would probably be worthwhile, but for someone who has utterly left this genre behind, it was a tedious effort.

Presentation: 2/5
Story: 1/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Replayability: 2/5
Overall (not an average): 2/5



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