Overall Score 93%
I of the Enemy
As a Lokob (luh-kobe) officer with the rank of Commander of Armies, I'm in command of my entire race's armed forces, led by my skilled field commander, Yereg Verkkal. The Lokob are at war with the mysterious and insidious Unath (oo-nath), who threaten all the worlds in this galactic sector. The Lokob are allied with the mighty soldiers of the Rag'ha and the technologically superior but rather reticent Y'dray (ee-dray).
Poor old me. I've been thrust into a universe of torture and suffering. While "I of the Enemy" is a joy to play and the plot is both clever and well-written, the dialogue contains more sci-fi alien words than a triple bill of Star Trek! Seriously though, the plot to this game is fantastic - and halfway through the story, your ideas of all the races involved will be turned entirely on their head. I didn't see it coming.
IOTE is a real-time combat strategy game in much the style of Warcraft or Command and Conquer. Unlike these, however, more focus is placed on controlling units and military tactics than the endless construction that often results. Instead, IOTE uses a temporal gate to periodically supply the player with reinforcements and supplies, so instead of building an impenetrable fortress you spend your time hunting down the enemy.
This is one of several ideas uncommon to such games. Another is that units amass experience as they fight, so they can grow in power and ability. You can then save these units after battle and bring them forward into later missions. The style of the game may be due to the fact that it is written and coded by military officers!
Controls, as normal in such strategy games, is mostly mouse with a few keyboard strokes. Select units with the left button, deselect with the right. Drag a box around them to select groups. Commands are rather more detailed, though, with each unit having a selection of appropriate commands in a box to the right of the screen. You can have them defend a position, patrol and so on, not just attack and move. You can set up defensive groups for example that will attack nearby enemies while staying close to the spot they are defending.
The graphics are excellent. Everything visual about this game oozes professionalism, from the box art on the DVD case to the character animation. The cutscenes are smooth and, most importantly, can be skipped if desired. IOTE sets a high benchmark for graphical quality which many games would do well to aim for.
Sound, too, is high quality. The most marked presence is in the character voices, and once again professionalism is obvious - voice actors have clearly been employed, such as Ian McNeice (of Dune) as Verkkal. These are coupled with some well-written and humorous scripts. Other sound effects also work well, though the witty remarks of your troops are limited in number and can get irritating when they start repeating.
This is a very playable game and I've flown through the early missions with ease. However, things do get tougher - a knowledge of military strategy will help you no end. New units and ideas are introduced gradually, such as the mortars (or the Unath rockets) that can fire from any position on the map, but only at targets your forces can see. The tutorials, however, are fairly bland and would benefit from being interactive. I didn't "get" the tutorial until I started a game and tried things out for myself. And trying to command your forces in the middle of a pitched battle is nigh on impossible with a laptop touchpad!
I of the Enemy is a first class production with very little to go against it. The more tactical elements to the campaign and the lack of base construction may rankle a few fans of the genre. It needn't. This is an excellent example of what happens when every element of game development is done to the highest standard. One of the biggest problems you'll have - quite literally! - is the size of the demo download...
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