Cavemen vs Aliens – Xbox Indie Review

An XboxHornet review by WDesm

“A fantastically straight forward RTS-lite”

Cavemen Vs Aliens is a simple take on the RTS genre: You have a finite amount of resources (Cavemen), as does the enemy (Aliens). Using four different pterodactyls (or spaceships), you move your resources to islands, securing them while raiding or defending from the enemy. The art is goofy, attractive; the sound effects are professional; and the gameplay is refreshingly solid and quick-paced.

Like all good strategy games, the gameplay is easy to grasp, and hard to master. Each button on the 360 controller is linked to a pterodactyl of the same colour. The Blue one acts as a dropship for your cavemen, the Yellow one acts as an ammo drop, the Green as a healer, and the Red as an escape shuttle. You cannot directly control the cavemen under your control (they will automatically attack enemies or capture islands), and so these four coloured pterodactyls are your only interaction with your troops. Large scale awareness is important, because ammo drops, reinforcements, or extra health will protect your finite and non-respawning cavemen alive through to the end. Between skirmishes, you are rewarded with “Gold” for your victory, which can be used to buy powerups for your army (such as increased health, faster island capping, etc). The strength of your army is very important, as later stages open up multiple simultaneous skirmishes. While you only play through one skirmish at a time, you must pre-allocate a limited amount of cavemen between multiple stages, demanding an even larger-scale assessment of tactics.

Most console RTSes are single player with limited or non-existent multiplayer, and I’m sad to note that Cavemen Vs Aliens doesn’t shake things up very far: A 1-on-1 local competition mode exists, but I can’t help but wish for more. I am aware of the limitations on XBLIG, and that some features could only exist in an XBLA or even disc title, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to take an obviously well-thought-out game and have some form of global competition? Tom Clancy’s Endwar, Chromehounds, and other games have shown that individual stats can play into a global result – why can’t Cavemen Vs Aliens have online play, with a global scorecard kept on the leaderboard (ie: Cavemen win 65% of the time, so the scoreboard has a primitive theme to it)? ….Too much, I know, but I can dream.

Back to reality, or in this case, a prehistoric reality, we’re left with a functionally one-player but exceedingly-polished and well-designed RTS. Your mental muscles will thank you for saving our ancient ancestors from the alien menace.

Game Score 9/10

Download a free trial of the game here.

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