Colony


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JoshColonyOne of the first things I learned in Journalism school was to never analogize my subject matter with recipe ingredients. But sometimes I just can't help it, especially when a game like Colony comes along, begging to be described as "two parts real-time strategy, one part tactical action and a just a dash of tower defense." It's the latest release from Jakrin "Krin" Juangbhanich, the developer behind the ridiculously successful Sonny and Sonny 2. You could call Colony a real-time strategy game, although you'd be selling it short. It's unique in the sense that it draws inspiration from several tried-and-true genres; featuring multi-faceted gameplay that feels familiar, even if doesn't appear so.

As evidenced by Krin's self-professed love of StarCraft, the game is rooted in the sci-fi/alien-horror RTS genre. The plot isn't incredibly thick — there are three different army factions you can choose to play with: Capitalists, Communists and Fascists. Each army has its own story arc in campaign mode, and they each have an inherent bonus (for example, Capitalists produce resources faster — army bonuses are explained when you start a campaign). You're given a hefty array of units to work with; each providing its own strengths and weaknesses. Soldiers serve as your basic cannon-fodder "starter" unit, although you won't have to wait very long to begin using heavier units like tanks, helicopters and even medics.

ColonySimilar to side-scrolling tactical games, you begin each round at one end of a horizontal map, with your enemy situated on the opposing side. The goal itself isn't too complex; just turn the enemy's base into a smoking crater. Accomplishing that goal, on the other hand, will require a bit of strategy and skill. You'll notice your base consists of individual squares, forming a grid. You'll always have a "Central Base" pre-built in the middle of your grid, which serves as your entire base's "hit points" or "life." The Central Base also comes equipped with a defense turret, providing a bit of cover when you're under attack. The remaining squares are called "Ground Zero," signifying that you can build on them.

Here's the catch, though: Colony is a multiplayer-based game, even when you're playing a single-player campaign. The base belongs to both you and the AI, which serves as your ally. Even in single-player mode, you work with the AI to destroy the enemy base, while the enemy does the same. You can even communicate with the AI, which serves as an entire gameplay aspect on its own! In his official blog announcement, Krin wrote that the allies have their own unique "personalities" that dictate things like aggressiveness and combat tactics. "You can talk to them via the chat, and ask them what they are going to build, or what you think they should do," he says. "They will let you know what the biggest threat from the enemy is, and if they are about to form an attack group. You can even ask them personal questions like their name and age."

ColonyYour grid is divided into eight squares (not including the central base), which is divided equally between you and your AI ally. You each have four plots to build structures on; this is the primary RTS game mechanic, and you'll find it amazingly intuitive if you have any experience at all with the RTS genre. If you don't, you'll still find the learning curve to be relatively smooth; construct buildings with resources, then produce your army with your buildings. There are three resources used in Colony: money, manpower and energy. There's also a special fourth resource that represents morale, which builds as your army takes more ground on the battlefield. Don't worry; the tutorial in the "Quick Play" mode offers adequate instruction, as do the in-game hints and advice offered by your ally.

The interface is simple and easy-to-use; you can point-and-click through the entire game if you like (with the exception of typing to communicate with your AI or real-world ally). Click and drag to highlight a group of units, and issue commands by clicking the action buttons below. If you're a fan of hotkeys, just use [A] and [D] to scroll from left to right across the battlefield. Use the helpful "Rally" command by hitting [X], which forces your units to wait outside your base after they've been produced. You'll also be able to use additional number and letter hotkeys as they relate to the interface layout, as explained in-game.

Analysis: When it comes to hybrid gameplay, not every developer is able to pull it off. In Colony, Krin was able to successfully create a working synergy between several different mechanics, while avoiding common pitfalls like an obtrusive interface or overly-complex micro-managing. Fun units like snipers, helicopters and mech-walkers offer diverse enough ways to defeat your opponent, without feeling overwhelmed by choices. The same is true of the construction system; it doesn't take two hours of gameplay just to learn the dynamics between resources and building functions. Colony's graphics and sound are nothing less than you'd expect from the developer and publisher team that brought you the Sonny series, and it seems to be optimized well enough to run smoothly on older hardware.

The online multiplayer mode will probably be the most under-appreciated aspect of Colony (initially, at least). I hope I'm wrong, because live multiplayer adds a new dimension to the game, and it's executed pretty smoothly via Jiggmin.com's Blossom Server. Up to four people can play per game; two on each team, sharing the base, just as you share it with the AI in single-player mode.

RTS vets might find themselves breezing through the campaign mode a bit quicker than expected, but there are various difficulty settings available in the "Quick Play" mode (you can also switch between armies). Aside from the lukewarm single-player mode—which might have been enhanced by non-linear gameplay and more upgradeable customization—most players won't find too many faults in Colony. It's a novel spin on the casual RTS paradigm; just as solid as it is accessible.

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29 Comments

I think I'll have to go and give this an in depth play now, I hopped on the beta briefly but didn't actually give it a real play. The visuals are pretty awesome and it sounds to be a solid game. Great review, I'll go check it out soon and see if it's all it's hyped up to be.

meh, its been done before, and doesnt bring anything new to the table. however, the online multilayer is impressive, and think its a great addition.

I find the four-building restriction is extremely annoying, personally. It forces you to choose at the beginning between energy-dependent units and population-dependent units. After that, attempting to switch is suicide, because it interrupts your spam. It wouldn't be much of a problem normally, but neither factory can build a full selection of units. Except for the superunits at the very end, the forge doesn't have any good armor, and the barracks can't do air.

Additionally, between the building cap and the very restricted range of units and buildings, the game is nearly deterministic, and early-game build orders are entirely too simple and necessary. Your entire strategy beyond responding to the other players' build orders is mechanical.

So, overview: too simple, not enough variety, bases too constricted to make it interesting.

It's bugged for me. I can play the capitalists just fine, nut when I play the fascists there's no base at the far right end of the map. Anyone else have this problem?

This game is fun enough, but it'd be more fun if it would actually let me play the campaign. When I try to play the second level, it just does everything for me, like the computer is controlling my half of the base too. All it lets me do is toggle some of the options and chat with the CPU ally. It's a fun game, but it's not a very good movie.

Xile: You're in the right-hand base on the second mission.

The whole game was simply a counter unit fest. What made it even more frustrating was that if you built a lot of different units, there wasn't a way (and if there was, tutorial didn't clearly state it) to select a certain unit type. So it was hard to send the Marines (anti air) forward only to attack the Scouts (an air unit that's anti ground to anything except a unit that's not anti air basically) while sending the tanks back. Sure, you can do it individually, but being a StarCraft lover and the game itself being a counter fest, you'd think this feature would be implemented.

Another thing was that the units were completely unbalanced. Tanks COMPLETELY overpower infantry units, especially when clumped together. A SINGLE shot from the tank could well easily destroy 30+ infantry if they rallied together, so in the end it was better to go mechanical units. There are a lot of other unit complaints that I have, but it'll turn out to be an even longer wall of text and there simply won't be an end of my frustration towards unit balance. In the end, it was just the forge + armory and spam Phantoms (only counter is pretty much air units and Sakatas, infantry spam doesn't work due to long range) and Sakatas (really high range for anti air).

The campaign mode was also frustrating with the AI not building the counter units. I sort of like the tutorial AI actually saying he's going to build up an army and the tell me that he's sending it, or if he's saving up money to build an armory.

I guess can sort of see this as a multi-player game where both players just know that both of them are going to mass Phantoms and Sakatas. Either that or perhaps I haven't played the game enough to see the super units in use.

Does anybody know how to beat mission 5? Or if it is even possible?

Well that was fun till I played mission four 10 times. :(

I found this fairly mediocre. It's not really any better than Sea of Fire (air is slightly more usable, but that's about it), and in some ways worse (only one building takes damage). Multiplayer might be fun, but still doesn't look fun enough.

Piros12, for Mission 5 there's some luck involved, but try this:

Build up a Treasury first, then a Generator and an Outpost. Then build the Special Ops (missile) building. Set the Outpost to build marines to hold off the first wave until the missiles are ready.
When you run out of manpower, demolish the Outpost and build a Generator (be sure to upgrade it).
This should keep you in missiles while your 'ally' is hopefully building something useful like Phantoms. If the ally doesn't, you'll likely lose since it's pretty easy for the enemy to send out quick units behind a bunch of Phantoms and you'll never be able to get a missile on them.

I had the same issue with not being able to use all of my bases on the right hand side... I think it's an issue caused by resizing the screen in firefox (ctrl+, ctrl-), but I don't know.. it made mission 4 impossible, since I could only use 2 building slots.

I'm not a genius at the game, but im not the worst in the world either. Does anyone have any tips to beat mission 4 please?

The multiplayer is AWESOME. It's really addicting if you can find someone to play with for some time, cuz then you can level up you rank.(i think the max is 5)
Ironically,I can't get past the last level. Can anyone help?

I can't make it past mission 5! Any more tips?

Here is a tip for mission 4, Jamez;

Start by building a bank, then build an outpost. spam marines to the rally point until out of manpower. wait and build an armory, then set that to reinforce, build marines. after that, build a forge and get androids for a while until at 45 energy. demolish the forge and build a power plant. upgrade the outpost to level three, then get black queens while your ally covers. three will be sufficient. spam marines.

how do you get influence?

For level 4:

try going dual armoury + generator and bank and spam scouts. It was fast enough for me :p.

Stuck on level 5 though.

[Edit: Spoiler added ~ Kayleigh]

Hi there,

Boring Lv4 method:

I used dual armory, generator and bank --> just spammed scouts to rush

Stuck on Lv5 though :(
Very hard to hold off the horde when there's little support next door.

Influence: kill units --> + influence I think

Cheers

Oh man, Level 4 is impossible. I can't do it! Does anyone have tips or a walkthrough or something? I tried Jimmy's and Pyros's methods and they didn't work. Anyone have a different strategy?

Some suggestions that people may want to try.

I am somewhat experienced with this game, but today I tried something new. In less than an hour, I completed the campaign using only this strategy:

Ground troops only !!!

This is a macro-micro strategy, so you will need to be reasonably capable at the game to make it work.

The basic principles are:

1) Tanks beat all other ground units (at least the low-level ones).

2) Marines beat air units, at least the low-level ones! (Surprised? It's true.)

3) Bigger economies win.

Perhaps you thought that scouts were the best unit. Well, they are, almost. They beat everything else, except marines.

Put it all together - macro up until the enemy approaches, then build tanks and marines. Put your tanks against the enemy ground forces and your marines against the enemy air. Keep your marines away from the enemy tanks. Move forward or back as appropriate.

If you try this strategy, you will need troops, but not very much money or energy. So don't build a bank or generator. Build an armory and spam whatever resource you need to get your economy going, eventually switching to troops. Build 1 outpost and spam troops. Build a second outpost and spam tanks and/or marines. Maybe build a hospital and spam troops or medics. Maybe upgrade one outpost and spam Goliaths. But tanks and marines are really all you need.

This should allow you to beat the campaign easily, except ...

Level 5, which is tough.

The big problem is that both enemies are rushing, and your ally tends to tech up. So you have to get a lot of troops in the field ASAP. And you're not allowed to build air or a hospital. Don't try for missiles; you won't have the time.

Anyway, try this:

Build armory, spam money.
Build outpost, spam troops.
Switch armory to energy.
Build outpost, spam tanks and/or marines.
Switch armory to troops (or money).

Should work ...

but it's not guaranteed.

At some point, the enemy will try to tech up. At that point, you can change production, but why bother? Tanks and marines are fine.

Probably a better suggestion for Level 5:

Build armory, spam money.
Build outpost 1, spam troops.
Switch armory to energy.
Build outpost 2, spam troops.
Wait a bit, then ...
Switch armory to money.
Build outpost 3, spam tanks and/or marines.
After you have a money reserve,
Switch armory to troops.
Later, you may want to ...
Upgrade outpost, spam Goliaths.

Well, i used to think that level 5 was impossible to but then i did this to beat it, and it worked. Still you need like a ton of luck.

1.turn on auto build and rally
2.make bank
3.make out post and set on make people
4.armory and set on make people
5.make hospital and set on make people
6.upgrade hospital and again make people
7.upgrade bank
8.upgrade out post
9.make an invincible number of gridtz
10.ATTACK
(you will also need to use tanks and marines to defend within the game)

It might not work but it did for me, and again, you will need a ton of luck. :)

Oh yeah and does anyone know how many wins you need to go to rank 5 on multiplayer cause im 4 right now.

Here's what I did to beat Mission 4. I did one bank (which I upgraded to treasury), one generator (which I upgraded to Solar Grid), one armory, and one forge. Set armory to spam money and set forge to spam scouts. It worked and it was quick.

Colony 2 is coming soon! Probably released sometime around January 2010.

is it possible to beat level 6 tried 10 times and cant finish it 8D

Actually, I found level 4 pretty easy. My ally and I both flooded out scouts before the enemy got serious anti-air and that worked well. Maybe I just got lucky, but I tried it again and it worked a second time.

I was stuck on level 5 for a while, but I eventually realized that missiles were a sucky waste of time and was able to win with fairly ordinary tactics.

none of the missions are really hard simply:
build bank
wait until you have 50 money
upgrade bank
wait until you have 40 money
build outpost
build people(in outpost) while waiting to have 30 money
upgrade outpost
build as many snipers as possible then switch to bulding people
wait until you have enough money to build a hospital(40 money)
build hospital
build people in hospital
build some more snipers
when you have the money and people (65 and 10 respectively) upgrade hospital and build people
finally save up to build armory to produce energy
save up money and energy(80 and 50 respectively)to upgrade outpost
then build as many hover crafts and black queens as possible and send them to your enemy(my suggestion 15 and 4)

so that's how you do it
most importantly make sure that each building is doing something whether building fighters or generating energy

I'm on level 5, and ive tryed all of you guys strategies/walkthroughs, and they didnt work. NONE of them. Can someone please send out one that is doable and works? P.S. problem is a game of catch. I kill all of there troops, they kill mine. I cant catch up, they destroy me. help plox?

ever tried monarchs? then just pull out as many special ops buildings as possible and go send out that mixed infantry team. it beats everything.

you can either start with a bank or an armoury, which leaves you the opportunity to go phantoms.

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