Cheap and Dirty Gamer: A.R.C.S Will Destroy Your Mouse
I’ve always been kind of a crappy RTS player due to the fact that I’m naturally inclined to focus on defense and eventually succumb to drawn out assaults. That is exactly why games that celebrate the “turtling” strategy have always been my forte. If you are a regular reader of CADG, you know that the tower defense genre is probably one of my favorites, although I do have to admit that constantly playing TD games has made me a bit lazy. I mean, I’m pretty good at setting things up and letting tiny little soldiers or advanced AI take it from there, but what happens when the actual pointing and shooting is left up to me? Retromite’s A.R.C.S answered that question for me this past week and I quickly found out that I may not be as slick on the trigger as I am in the planning stages.
A.R.C.S story takes place in space and on the planets that happen to exist in aforementioned space. You play the part of a field commander tasked with defending human colonies from mutants, aliens, robots and other jerk-offs. I assumed that this was set in the future because we don’t have the kind of technology showcased in A.R.C.S and our astronauts seem a lot more focused on looking at rocks and making velcro than battling intergalactic bad guys. In fact, I made a ton of assumptions in reference to the story because I wasn’t there to make friends and learn about their lives; I was there to defend stuff from other stuff. That being said, A.R.C.S. does feature some fun little cut scenes which shed some light on the shenanigans that you’re taking part in should you choose to not hit the skip button.
From there it’s just you, a giant robot and some nameless grunts (who seem a bit ill-equipped considering the circumstances) defending a single fortified location from the armies of your foes. While the tiny soldiers do their own shooting, you actually aim the robots gun(s) via cross hairs controlled by the mouse. From there you’ll need to just line up your targets and click away until they erupt into cute little retro explosions. This may seem simple, but the difficulty ramps up as your enemy launches a menagerie of different unit types at you. They tend to fit within the standard tropes of tower defense baddies, though I was caught off guard by a tank that had a drill attached to its front end. It’s the pace that these things come at you that surprised me, meaning I had to pick the right targets or else deal with my little slice of concrete heaven crumbling underfoot.
Fortunately, there is a convenient little space shop for you to visit in between rounds which allows for the purchase of new guns as well as a bit of upgrading. While having some heavier weapons did give me a leg up on the competition, they by no means equal the playing field in a substantial way. A.R.C.S. can be pretty difficult and, as I played, I found it was important to strike a balance between focusing on enemies that were easier and enemies that could cause you a lot of damage. It’s also important to think about your purchases in between rounds as there’s a specific set of weapons needed in order for you to maim efficiently and effectively.
I had fun with the A.R.C.S. and considering it’s only $1.99 on Desura, I probably got more bang out of my buck with it than I have with the AAA titles I’ve purchased recently. I’d love to see Retromite take the concept and get a bit deeper with it. The art assets and sound are already there, I just want a bit more control over my progression.
If you need a quick fix strategy game and appreciate simple to learn but difficult to master mechanics, I’d highly recommend taking A.R.C.S. out for a spin. Check out the trailer below and you’ll see why it jumped out at me.
Cheap and Dirty Gamer – Being cheap used to be an insult, but with the economy in the dumps it’s now a survival skill. Being dirty also used to be an insult, but that changed after Christina Aguilera’s song came out. Not all gamers have the funds to play full priced games, but that doesn’t mean that gaming quality has to suffer. There are good free and cheap games everywhere, games specifically made for the sexy survivors among us.