Massive Assault Network 2 Review

Hidden deep from the masses of the gaming community are the independent developers. While they don’t have the millions of dollars to fund gaming projects or the best technology, these developers always have a fledging and devoted community following. The folks at specialize in strategy gameplay, especially since their tagline states, "strategic satisfaction." Their turn-based strategy series Massive Assault has been around since early 2002, and has been given several sequels/continuations. The latest addition, Massive Assault Network 2, focuses on the online world where people can seemingly create games on the fly and spend long hours conducting strategic battles like real-world warlords. MAN2 gets props for its simple and streamlined presentation, but like many other turn-based strategy games, its difficulty can be a doozy.

MAN2’s story takes place in the future where two superpowers are at war, the Free Nations Union and the Phantom League. The game features 25 maps and over 40 units for each faction. The general goal of every fight is to build up your units and destroy your opponent. Each turn is done in three stages; guerrilla phase where the invaded country deploys their own troops, combat phase where you and your opponent move units and fire on each other, and the recruitment phase where you can buy extra units. Maps vary in size, and there are neutral areas spread around the map that can offer some help like extra units or more cash. There are also cities that upon capturing give extra cash and allow you to "grow" your units. Of course, the more units or cities you have, the better your chances of winning.

Each unit has a specific number of turns and hit points shown through little green boxes above the unit. Certain units will have more (or longer) turns, like jets or naval transports, while others will have more hit points, like heavy tanks. Moving and strategically placing your units is key to victory. As mentioned before, certain units will have less hit points, like a mobile rocket launcher, and if engaged up close, they’re surely done. Therefore, it’s important to position tanks or other cannon fodder in front to deter units from coming close, and utilize the weaker mobile rocket launcher for its ranged firepower.

Expanding on that, most of the units are useable. The smaller jeeps may seem rather useless, but at the beginning of a match they can be very useful. Despite having very low hit points and only moving one space per turn, they can be created by the bucketful and are useful for scouting or just blocking enemies from entering your territory. As you advance, you’ll be getting better units, like bigger tanks, artillery, jets, different naval units and walkers.

The game is presented from a top-down view where you control and battle with units via associated turns. While the tutorial provides a good overview of the game, the somewhat awkward voice-over (strong accent) and grammatical errors (attributed to translation) may be a bit quirky to some players. After going through lessons on moving units, attacking, and ending turns, you jump into the online world where the game seemingly begins, and basically doesn’t end.

After signing on to the MAN2 sever, if you have a previous match running, you’ll be given your latest turns, during which you can execute them and send them back to your opponent. While this process is seemingly old since turn-based war strategy games have been around for years, implemented an in-game view where you can play the actual game in real-time. This is effective if you and your opponent have the time to actually fight the battle then and there. This real-time part enhances the game experience, but time can be an issue since battles can take quite a while. If you don’t have time to kill, you can either log on at your own leisure and issue your turns like I mentioned before, or download your turns and execute them offline at your own pace. All these processes really put the battle into your own time, letting you treat it like a lengthy and advanced experience, or like a casual game.

The game’s presentation is a real plus, and is part because of the easy and light interface. On the top right is the in-game map, and on the bottom right is the end turn button and a small menu, which depicts some information such as your remaining turns and your revenue. Hovering your mouse over your unit will show its stats, where it can move on the playing field, and its firepower range.

Another reason for the game’s easy presentation is the visuals. While they’re not stunning, the stripped-down approach of relatively easy graphics definitely make the game more appealing. The stylized war visuals captivate the game enough; you can tell explosions are rocking nearby units, and the slow-mo replay camera can give you an extra glimpse on the agony of war. Tree shadows will litter the terrain while waves from crashing oceans will give you some sense of that the war is being fought on actual fronts, adding more to the sense of battle.

One of the downsides for MAN2 is the often punishing level of difficulty. While the tutorial offers some insight and the game offers two computer-controlled AI tutors, playing with other people — who usually are very experienced — can be a downer. Even the two AI controlled tutors can be tough. Unfortunately, this problem is usually standard for many online turn-based strategy games which are usually catered to the more experienced crowd. Nevertheless, the casual approach of MAN2 makes sure that you don’t have to devote a lot of time to the game if you don’t want to or have the time to.

Another downfall is the monotony of the gameplay. After a while, the game boils down to your standard war strategy game. Playing numerous battles over time can start to get rather tedious. But one thing that will usually spice things up are your opponents, especially if you play online. Since not everyone is the same, one day you can get an experienced player while the next battle can be a new player. This adds an element of realism to the game, and makes you stay on your toes, so to speak.

Overall, gets points for approving their formula of MAN2. The easily approachable interface, scaling gameplay, and throwback visuals are definite highlights of the game. At times the difficulty can be a bit much, but that really depends on your opponent. The system requirements for the game are very low, and can run on relatively old PCs making this game fun for people who haven’t upgraded their PCs in the last two years. The execution is strong and pretty spot-on, and after getting some battles under your belt you’re pretty much on an even playing field. Just make sure to not let some early losses get you down; I’m a bit soft when it comes to losing.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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