Behind the Catan-esque hexagonal grid that forms the landscape of Greed Corp, there stands a message. One that almost touches upon the environmental. When faced with the destruction of your land, would you defend it until the last or sacrifice it to stop the enemy getting their grubby mitts on it? Of course in videogames the chosen answer isn’t always the one that tugs on your heartstrings; when faced with a turned-based war, you’re probably going to choose the option that will crush the opposition under foot.
Set in a distant land, four factions bid for victory. The peace loving Freemen, the raucous Pirate, the nasty sounding Cartel, and the “they can’t be good” Empire. Most look for a nook of the six-sided world to call their own, but others seek domination. Your affiliation, however, will make little difference other than aesthetically as W!Games have created a polished turn-based strategy game where all forces have access to exactly the same simple set of abilities.
Resembling an adorable Chibi AT-ST, there is but one fighting unit used to colonise and control the hex maps encountered throughout the campaign. They fight with sheer weight of numbers; if one side has more units than the other in an engagement, then they retain/gain that hex. Initally the simple nature of the combat lulls you into a false sense of security, with the gentle nature of the early missions won by barrelling forward with more military might than your rival. This misnomer quickly become apparent though as strength in numbers is not everything; it comes down to strategic traversal and exploitation of the map’s tiles.
The twist with Greed Corps is that mining the land for resources will literally leave you nowhere to place your feet. As with Command & Conquer and alike, your army is funded by the extraction of natural resources but doing so will eat away at the ground itself. Each hex has a height and as harvesting continues it will eat away at the height of its own tile and those surrounding it. Come the endgame, verdant and broad pastures are reduced to a mere handful of rock columns standing in a void.
Though tacticians will have to gauge carefully where to build barracks and cannons, the destructive power of a harvester can be put to good use against enemy units. Should the ground collapse beneath their feet then your opponent can kiss them goodbye.
Each of the four factions has a dedicated chapter in the overall campaign, progressing in difficulty as you press forward. Although the intelligence of the opponents ramps up throughout, the main variety comes from the maps. From layouts featuring large open expanses to teetering, criss-crossing causeways, your environment is as much a challenge as the armies you tackle. As such, most encounters give the air of a puzzle game where key hexes present themselves as time goes by and prove the locus for the battle.
Despite none of the factions appearing as more than an alternate skin for your army, the art work and overall presentation does well to lift what could have been a fairly bland concept into one that exudes charm and character. The soft, colourful style does far more for me than any of Star Craft’s muscle-bound space marines.
But that’s comparing apples with oranges. Greed Corp is not going to attract the hardcore RTS masses, but instead it offers a barracks-full of tactical thought for those who prefer to consider their options rather than memorise build orders. Each loss rarely feels the result of some crafty AI, but down to genuine out-manoeuvring that you watch unfold in front of you. In as much as I described Blood Bowl as “angry chess”, this similarly wears that description… just with a playing field that fall apart quicker than Austrailia’s top order.
Part TBS, part puzzler, some may consider it too intense and hardcore to sit comfortably on Xbox Live Marketplace, and some equally may think it up against far greater opposition when found on Steam. I, however, think it marries the merits of the accessibility required for console play with the thought provoking qualities of a PC strategy game to a tee.