By Brad Cook
Deep in the little-explored regions of space, opposing forces struggle for control of an uninhabited world. Massive Liveships orbit the planet, using their dropships to deploy tanks, anti-aircraft guns, engineering and reconnaissance vehicles, and infantry. Heavy weaponry rumbles across the surface, exchanging blows in fierce combat that finally ends with one sides armaments turned into smoking ruins.
Welcome to the universe of DropTeam, a strategy game that features realistic action in a science-fiction setting. Weapons fire and vehicles move according to their environments: projectiles travel farther on worlds with little or no atmosphere to slow them down, while a light tank that maneuvers well on asphalt will find itself spinning out of control on an icy surface.
Each successful strike on an enemy vehicle or weapon takes a variety of factors into consideration: the targets armor strength, the angle of penetration, the projectiles velocity at impact, the type and strength of ammunition used, and so forth. The hit could take out crucial systems or crew members, rendering the unit inoperable or unable to perform certain functions. Under certain circumstances, the unit could even explode, scattering shrapnel and damaging others nearby.
Assess the Situation
DropTeam places you in command of one of the two sides battling for control of the many planets in the game. From the tactical display, you assess the situation and decide which units to deploy, giving them orders and creating waypoints for their movements. You then take control of one of the units on the surface, moving it to intercept the enemy. If its destroyed, simply select another unit to deploy and try again. A word of caution: dont place units too close to the enemy, or they might shoot down the dropship before it can deliver its cargo.
The world where the battle takes place also dictates your strategy. Some are verdant, Earth-like planets with structures left behind by the previous inhabitants, which can provide you with additional resources if you capture them. Others, however, offer nothing but a radioactive wasteland or pools of fiery lava or sheets of slick ice.
Gravity and atmosphere also varies, forcing you to alter how and where you deploy your units and what type of weaponry you employ. For example, high gravity and dense atmosphere will slow down your projectiles, forcing you to get closer to the enemy before firing. High gravity also makes vehicles and tanks more difficult to control and will cause them to more easily slide down slopes, sometimes with catastrophic effects.
Choose Your Scenario
Gameplay in DropTeam consists of various scenarios that take place on different worlds. You can undertake a campaign that consists of a string of scenarios or simply play them one at a time in the order you choose. Your teammates, as well as the enemys forces, can all be computer-controlled, or you can have human players join the fun over the Internet or a LAN (local area network). When human players join your team, you can issue them orders, but they dont have to comply.
Each scenario typically lasts 30 minutes, the winner is the team that earns the most points. There are three types of scenarios: objective, territory, and capture the flag. In an objective-based game, one team is the attacker and the other is the defender. The latter holds a valuable strategic position or object at the beginning of the scenario and starts with a fixed number of points. The attackers start with zero points and gain them by taking and holding ground close to the objective.
A territory game starts with each team at zero points and in possession of nothing. Scattered around the battlefield are various facilities that must be captured and held for as long as possible; the longer theyre controlled, the more points the team earns. The structures can also be destroyed, which means neither side earns points for them.
Capture the flag is a variation of the popular game type found in many first-person shooters, such as Call of Duty 2. In DropTeam, the flag is actually a pile of resources hidden within an abandoned structure. Each side starts the scenario with their flag inside their base area. When an opposing unit grabs the flag, they must transport it back to their home base to earn points.
Modify, If You Want
You can also modify DropTeams XML-based files to suit your needs, changing scenario parameters and unit specifications, importing terrain data from GIS maps to create your own worlds, and more. Battlefronts discussion forum hosts an area dedicated to modding, complete with a how-to document that you can download and peruse.
Well see you on the far side of the universe.