The gaming world is a rare place to find an innovative and
“new” concept. Really! The just-released Unreal is a Doom game. Myth is Warcraft on steroids. Diablo is Dungeons and Dragons. Starcraft is the space Warcraft (which I am eagerly awaiting!). And the list goes on. When a truly “new” game comes out, there are usually imitators released within a short time. So when a game comes along with originality, exciting game play, great graphics, and an addictive quality, I sit up and notice. Ladies and gentlemen, Gridz is just such a game.
I first heard of Gridz from a very short review on a Mac gaming web page. It sounded somewhat interesting, so I dropped Green Dragon Creations, the makers of Gridz, a email asking for a review copy. When it arrived, and I looked at the screen shots, I was less than thrilled. It looked a little hokey, and perhaps a little difficult. Not qualities I admire in a game, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway. Three days and six hours of game play later, I’m a believer.
At first glance, Gridz doesn’t seem like it could be such a great game, much less addictive. Even so, it’s very difficult to describe game play to anyone who hasn’t played the game, a little like trying to describe to someone who has never seen an automobile how driving a sports car is different from driving a minivan. But the difference between Gridz and most other games are really that far apart. While many of today’s games go to great lengths to make their games “realistic”, Gridz does not. And it works because of that.
In Gridz, you are a spinning head-factory-robot sort of thing.
What this does, really, is crank out a number of “Nodes” and
little robots. The object of the game is to vanquish your
opponent by activating your Nodes while preventing him from doing the same, or destroying his Nodes whenever he makes them. Sounds really simple, but it is much harder, and easier, than that.
You start out the game with one active “Grid”. You control movement around the playing field by using four keyboard keys (which you can set) that moves left, right, up, and down. The playing field is all black with green squares. You must place your Nodes in four corners of each square, though you can place a Node only next to another Node. You cannot simply place them anywhere you wish. You place your Node by using your mouse to move the cursor to a square, select a corner, and click the mouse button. The Node, however, is not activated until you activate it. When all four corners of a square has an activated Node on it, the square turns into your color, and you own that part of the board. Bad guys cannot enter your squares, nor can you enter theirs. Are you with me so far?
Okay, now for the confusing part. From what I can figure out, your spinning-head-factory robot guy creates your ToolBots, the worker robots who do all the work for you. He also creates the Nodes that you have to place on the board. However, when the game starts, he has to expend energy to create things. Thus he may be able only to create one ToolBot and ten Nodes. When you have activated a grid, it adds more power to your spinning-head-factory robot guy. (Don’t you just love these technical terms?) With more power, he can create more ToolBots and Nodes more quickly.
Still with me? I hope so, because I feel that I
may have lost even myself at this point.
However, we are now getting to the really fun
part of Gridz!
Activating a Node is done by a ToolBot. There
are three different types of ToolBots: Builders,
Strikers, and Hackers. There are five different
ToolBots for each of these categories. During
game play, your object (besides getting rid of the other players and owning the game board–called NetSpace) is to collect Tokens. These Tokens are scattered across the board, and are inside some of the Grids. If you have an activated grid with a token in it when the game is over, you can use that grid to “Buy” new ToolBots. Each ToolBot has special abilities you will come to know after hours of game play. So as the game progresses, level after level, your arsenal of ToolBots become much more effective. Of course, the same is true of your opponents.
Each ToolBot has its own function. A Builder is a defenseless little guy who does nothing but activate your Nodes. A level one builder is pretty stupid, and will miss inactivated Nodes quite often. They also has a tendency to wander about aimlessly, making them easy prey for the enemy. A first level Builder kind of rolls around the board slowly, while a level five actually flies (making him much harder to kill). A level five can activate three times the number of Nodes than a level one, and he hardly ever misses any Nodes in his work.
The Workers, however, are in peril. The next class of ToolBots are the Strikers. These nasty guys go around destroying any opposing ToolBots they can find. That is their whole job function. A level one Striker can kill any Builder (if he can catch it) but a level one Striker is no match for a level five. In fact, a level five Striker (called the Boss) goes around converting any ToolBots he finds to his army. For example, if a red Boss runs across a green Builder, he will lash out with his whip, changing the green builder into a red one. Instant ToolBot for you! The reverse is also true, and I’ve lost many idiot level one builders to an opposing Boss.
The last of the ToolBots are the Hackers. These are perhaps the most important of the ToolBots, as the hackers’ mission is to seek out destroy the enemy Strikers. But they, too, are in some danger from the opposing Strikers, and an enemy Boss can even turn your own hackers against you! You cannot win without hackers, as the main objective is to knock out (or hack away) one of the Nodes around an enemy spinning-head-factory robot guy. If one of the Nodes around a spinning-head-factory robot guy falls, that color (or enemy) is deleted, and all his active Grids are cleared out. In other words, ripe for the taking!
Oh, and by the way, you really have very limited control of your ToolBots. After your let them loose, they go where they want, pretty much do what they want, and get destroyed quite often because they are quite stupid. (Which all combine to make this game so great!) You can give them a few commands, like “Stop” or “Work”, but that’s pretty much it.
Still with me after all that? Thinking this game may be a little too confusing for you? Yeah, I thought that once myself, but I quickly learned differently. Gridz is an addictive, very entertaining game that I know you will enjoy. It’s fun just watching other people play Gridz!
Playing against the computer will become too easy for you after three hours or so of game play, though with version 1.2, Green Dragon Creations has added some needed features such as smart enemies, timed nodes (that disappear if you do not activate them quickly enough), and hacker blips. However, the great part of Gridz is its multi-player mode! Yes, you can play Gridz over the Internet for some very intense and fun games! The multi-player options work great, though finding other people to play you may be a bit of a problem. You can check in with the Gridz web page for notices from other players looking for you, or check out the Worlds Without Borders http://worldwithoutborders.com chat page for Gridz games. I have even found some people ready-to-play on America Online.
Gridz is a really great game. I can honestly say that this game is well worth the asking price of $34.99. Actually, for this game, that price is CHEAP! While I received my copy free for review, had I seen or played the game beforehand, I would have gladly forked over the cash for it–it’s that good. The only negative thing I can say is that the one player mode is a bit too easy after you’ve played it a few times. This can be true of most of the popular games out there, and I’m sure Green Dragon Creations is hard at working on the next, more challenging version of Gridz.
Buy this game. You will love it.
System Requirements: PowerPC or 33MHz 68040, MacOS 7.5.1, 16MB of RAM (24MB Recommended), CD-ROM drive, 640×480, 256 colors
MacMice Rating: 4.5