Nuclear Dawn is a First person shooter and real-time strategy game developed and published by InterWave Studios. Set in a post-apocalyptic world it shows the conflict between the Empire and the Consortium. It originated as a Source Mod but has since been turned into a fully-fledged game. There are also 4 tutorial videos to watch to learn the basics of the game but there isn’t a replacement for a proper tutorial for RTS mode which takes time and skill to master.
The game is almost split into 2 separate games as it blends the FPS and RTS genres, but you will always start in FPS mode, from there you can become the commander and access the Command Bunker in order to start RTS mode. As a commander your body can be killed in order to interrupt RTS mode.
RTS mode starts if you are the commander of your team and you use the console within the command bunker. Both teams have slightly different buildings but it tends not to matter too much. Power and resources are the main things to keep an eye on; you need power to make your buildings work and resources to buy things. Power can be obtained via building power structures while resources can only be obtained via getting your team to capture points on the map. As the commander your main role is to build base structures and then expand though the map making forward bases as well as upgrading equipment and occasionally using commander powers. Buildings include Barracks (spawn points), supply stations which heal and resupply friendly units, power stains and structures, turrets and a few other less essential structures. The initial game for the commander will be to rush to expanding to the primary resource point as it will dictate who gains the edge generally afterwards it is a rush on upgrading troops to allow siege weapons as they will be the weapons that help your team push. Once a foothold has been made with Barracks and turrets not much can stand in the way of the team with the primary resource. Late game it boils down to just build what is needed and replace anything that gets destroyed.
FPS mode will be familiar to most PC shooter fans as the map full of claimable resource points are there for the taking, with all resources being capturable by a single player but the primary resource need at least 2 players to capture it. The shooting mechanics are pretty standard with iron sights making your shots more accurate but slowing you down. There are 4 different classes but each has either 2 or 3 loadouts which equip the class with differing equipment. The assault class is the bread and butter of the forces you will use. Assault has the second highest health and has access to an assault rifle, grenade launcher and sniper rifle with each one belonging to a different loadout. The assaults special ability is that it can switch its tactical visor on so that it can see a cloaked stealth, the mode has no cooldown so it is entirely possible to always have it on but the vision is much more blurred than it is in normal mode. Exos are the heaviest class and have the most health and slowest movement because of it. They can also carry the heaviest weapons and can even enter a lockdown mode which increases accuracy massively but makes you immobile and only gives you a 180 degree firing arc. Stealth is the fastest and lowest health class but they hold the deadliest weapons as they choose between the sniper rifle or a machine gun and arm blade combo. Arm blades will instantly kill the lighter classes when attacked from behind but take at least 2 hits to kill an exo. The stealth’s special ability is a cloak which renders you completely invisible but only lasts a short while and needs to recharge often. Support is the final class and they have the second least health in the game and have no special ability but make up for it by having some of the most important loadouts. The medic loadout can heal allies with deployable medkits and control areas by filling it with a poisonous cloud, while engineers can lay explosive traps, repair friendly buildings and shut down enemy buildings with their EMP grenades, lastly there is the BBQ loadout which has access to the flamethrower and a larger pool of grenades.
Graphically it uses the Source engine reasonably well and the post-apocalyptic setting is nice with less generic sort of post-war destruction. All the classes have a very different design so that you can tell them apart pretty quickly. Arrows above enemy and allied heads show who is on what team and because of the red blue choice it allows colour-blind gamers to see more clearly who is friendly and who is an enemy. The HUD shakes as you move and an ammo counter on the weapons you use follows the weapons movement which is a nice touch.The audio is reasonable with the standard set of weapon sounds and what music that is there is good but the purely video tutorials talking you through the gameplay is fine for the FPS but does not full equip you for the RTS mode.
Presentation and Audio
The source engine may be old but can still put on a good show, graphically it’s all pretty nice, differing designs for classes on opposite teams are nice and there are some effects that are a really nice touch eg HUD attached to weapons so that you can see ammo. What music there is ok and sounds for the weapons are standard.
While it is mostly fun there is a lot riding on your teammates and commander doing a good job. Stalemating is very easy to do as well and because of the base building and points coming under nearly complete lockdown. Balancing is needed for the classes as some classes go almost totally unused for an entire game.
While the game has lots of good elements how they come together game-to-game will prove how much fun you have. A reasonable commander can hold his team with a good defence for an entire game but this will leave the team fighting over the same area over and over with little loss or gain. Turrets are also so powerful that if you unfortunate to run into one without any equipment capable of destroying them then you will drop in seconds. While neither the FPS nor RTS elements are amazing the sum of their parts could be if it gets a little more balancing.
While the game is fun for me I found it ended up being a grind when teams weren’t working properly. As being the lone wolf is normally fun in a game like this exos are generally too slow to get behind enemy lines for long enough to do any real damage, support and assault also can’t do the damage and don’t have the health to be a benefit for long and stealth do nothing to buildings and commander assassinations prove almost impossible at times. Gizmos for weapons take far too long to unlock at early levels and new players will be put off of playing because of being underpowered compared to long term players. Games stalemate early on and then tend to drag on for quite a while as one team’s immovable defence meets the opposing teams unstoppable offence.
The game is available via retail and digital distribution. The retail game is available from Shopto.net and all other good retailers. The retail version also comes with added bonuses in the form of a poster, a postcard, a concept art book and the soundtrack.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.