Posted by: duskfire | June 29, 2011

MegaGlest: a review

[7/1:  After corresponding with one of the MegaGlest developers, Tom Reynolds, I’ve made some minor corrections to this review in italics, and added some missing web links]

MegaGlest is a real time strategy game in the fantasy genre. Like most RTS games, you choose a side, start collecting resources, building structures and fighting units, and then go find your enemy and (hopefully) win many battles.  This game is a fork from the older game Glest, which is not being actively developed anymore.

The music in this game is excellent. Sound effects and a few speech effects add to the fun. Graphics seem very good in my opinion – a clear improvement on the original. Your [default] view is top-down but in 3-d. If you wish to change the angle of view, hold down your mouse wheel (or middle button) and rotate the field.  All the units are distinct and I didn’t have any trouble telling them apart. The game starts in fullscreen but can run in a window, and you can pick one of 16 resolutions.

close view of tutorial starting

New Game brings up several options: Custom Game, Scenario, Internet Game, LAN Game, or Tutorial. Custom game is a way for you to play against up to 3 computer-controlled opponents, set a map, and set each opponent’s difficulty level. The scenarios are the “campaign” part of the game, and 20 are included to start you off, with different difficulty levels. The three tutorials were clear, and didn’t take long to run through. The Internet and LAN options are where you can pit yourself against other people online (or in a LAN party).

the "Indian" beginner tutorial

Game Mods: a note warns you that you need 7-zip (which is a free compression program  that I like) to install mods. You can choose mods for Tech Tree, Map, Tilesets, or Scenarios. Each one has a picture “preview” except the tilesets.

mod screen for MegaGlest

The Options screen allows you to change:  keyboard setup, audio, video (over 10 settings), 12 languages, adjust the font, and tweak the network settings for multiplayer (up to 8 people can play together online or using a LAN).

options screen

There are 7 factions: Tech, Magic, Indian, Egyptian, Norse, Persian, and Roman. So far I really don’t know the differences between them, but they do each have their own tech paths, and distinct look. I will continue to play various scenarios to learn more about the strategies for each faction.

MegaGlest makes it easy to get started learning the game – 3 tutorials that are clear and quite easy, so you don’t get frustrated while learning the basics.

Is the AI too hard or just right? I don’t know honestly, since I wasn’t able to play the game for a long enough length of time to find out. I enjoy strategy games but am certainly not very good at them!

The controls are easy to use, and you can select several units by drawing a rectangle to “group” them and move them together. [You can also queue up more than one order to build a unit or building.]

Missing Features:  The game doesn’t have a menu during play, or a pause button, and the goal to win isn’t clear. There doesn’t seem to be any in-game help. [At first I didn’t know how to pause, but the “p” button does that. I hadn’t read the README.TXT file because I’d installed via repositories – you can also download it from the game’s installation page]

In addition, you cannot save the game. I hope there are plans to put in that capability, because this is a game with so much to offer. I wasn’t able to really judge the play over the long term, due to the fact that I couldn’t keep a session going over the several hours I would need. I definitely will continue learning the game, and look forward to the next version.

Game Help: The MegaGlest website has a “get started” area, as well as forums. There is a separate Glest wiki and website. Glest has a large forum, and MegaGlest’s forum is part of it. There are no detailed strategy guides that I could find, [however the Glest wiki has several that will work for MegaGlest] and quite a few people have made YouTube videos showing different games being played.

Glest was the original version of the game, the graphics are not quite as crisp, and there are fewer options available. You also have only about half the scenarios as MegaGlest offers, none of which are very easy. Only the Magic and Tech factions are offered, and the online options are also limited. Glest hasn’t been updated since the spring of 2009, and there doesn’t seem to be much point in playing it. I have to wonder why it’s still offered in repositories. MegaGlest (and to some extent the Glest Advanced Engine) is really where the action is.

(MegaGlest is also available for the Windows operating system  [download it here], and is open source.)

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