Sometime during the summer of 2006, RTS fans came across a preview for the game Maelstrom. Featuring three different factions to control that all handled differently along with completely destructible environments and weather that influenced the outcome of battle, Maelstrom turned into a anticipated game for late 2006 or early 2007. Screenshots looked appealing and with the developer’s past success with the game Perimeter, everything looking to be shaping up to one of the better RTS games to be released in the past few years. However, as is the case in many situations, hype doesn’t equal quality and Maelstrom instantly became one of the most disappointing titles in recent memory, bar none.
After installation and playing a quick game, my immediate thought was to test out the new features immediately, as any RTS fan would want to see how they would influence tactics on the battlefield. Unfortunately, I was never able to truly enjoy anything new that the game offered on account of everything else being done horribly.
Say you managed to link together an attack group that you simply want to try out or simply make a control, more or less feeling your way around the game. The odds of the entire squad going in the same direction is virtually zero. No matter what, if you have a group of units that is above five, there will be someone with a vendetta against your soul. Rather than moving with the group, they’ll decidedly run off to the edge of the map and practice on becoming a pacifist. For the units that do decide to follow your orders, they won’t fire on an enemy until they can be poked with a stick. One can only assume that this issue will be patched eventually, but how such an egregious error managed to slip pass testing and make its way into a mass produced game is unfathomable.
No RTS is perfect with its first release and problems are usually patched several times before things are truly cleared up. But the problems with most RTS releases is usually the balance between opposing forces or off-the-wall goofs such as Terran tanks exploding on beacons when they go into siege mode in Starcraft. Never have I played a title so anticipated that resembles a poor junior programming joke such as Maelstrom. The graphics are fine, but they still pale in comparison to its contemporaries such as Company of Heroes.
No matter how much I prepared myself to deal with the frustration and experience the golden moments of Maelstrom, I couldn’t do it. The sheer number of errors found in the game make this title nothing more than a second rate coaster for your drinks. The bottom line? You’re better off constructing a town out of cards and using little green army men to orchestrate a battle. Maelstrom isn’t going to fit your need for the next great sci-fi RTS. It barely qualifies as a game. At least some of the music is okay. Overall 2/10