AI War 2 Review
AI War 2 sees the last remnants of humanity trying to regroup against an artificial intelligence that got bored before wiping them out entirely as something outside the galaxy distracted it. Now you have to hack, steal and reinforce planets as you strive to take back the galaxy and end the war against the AI.
The game is a large scale real-time strategy that blends the tactical elements from grand strategy style games like Europa Universalis whilst revelling in you thrusting thousands of units around the battlefield when the action kicks off. It’s an interesting hybrid of styles, much like the rest of Arcen Games’ output, and it works surprisingly well.
AI War 2 sees you building up your fleet and defences in secret as the AI mostly ignores your actions whilst it considers you harmless. Expand too quickly or simply capture planets too greedily and the AI’s gaze will rapidly become a problem.
In AI War 2 you extend your capabilities by capturing planets with assets, whether those are additional fleets of ships, or facilities you can use to extend your reach or ship diversity. There is a lot less focus on directly building offensive units and more of a focus on infrastructure and defensive structures. Every planet you liberate or structure you take over adds to the AIP (Artificial Intelligence Progress) number in red at the top of the screen.
The AIP represents how much interest the AI has in what you are doing, most actions increase it but you have a limited ability to lower it too by destroying AI data centres or holding certain objectives. The AIP once it hits certain thresholds increases the AI’s capability to mobilise against you, extending the size of its constant periodic attacks and its stance on taking back planets you’ve captured.
Your most direct route to victory is to take out the AI Overlords, the ‘king pieces’ on the AI chessboard that is the galaxy. To do this you first need to locate them, via scouting and hacking your way through the galaxy, all the while being conscious of where the AI is likely to attack during their next wave and the most effective route for growing your fleet without escalating the AI Progress amount too much.
Each planet you retake as mentioned gives you assets and resources, but it also becomes an active element of the battlefield with you able to install a variety of defensive structures from turrets and minefields to armed frigates and force fields. Tactically choosing which planets to reinforce is vital to your survival as the AI gets increasingly creative with its constant attacks.
Actual combat engagements in general feel more macro-level rather than having to manoeuvre individual ships which is good because very quickly the unit count can ratchet up into the thousands. Loading up your fleets, travelling multiple systems and then unloading them and watching the massive amounts of units flood the screen never gets old but it can be really difficult to see what is happening at times. Luckily you do have the option to slow down time and pause so you can get a better sense of what is going on, it can feel perhaps a little too hectic but it’s always quite satisfying.
AI War 2 is definitely a quirky take on the RTS, with its mix of low level battling and higher level strategic gameplay. Having a good grasp of what is happening across the whole map is as vital as how you fare in individual battles and there is a lot of nuance with what you can accomplish with clever usage of scouting and hacking that can make or break a plan.
If you are after a more thoughtful large-scale RTS or just after something a little bit different you could do far worse than AI War 2. It smashes elements from different genres together in a way that just makes sense and works intuitively. The scale of the skirmishes are incredible and it’s a lot of fun figuring out how to outsmart the AI.
AI War 2 (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A unique and interesting take on the RTS, adding a grand scale feel to proceedings whilst managing to not feel overwhelming. Seeing hundreds of units scurrying around never gets old. Heartily recommend to strategy fans.