Having grown up playing the classic real-time strategy game Command & Conquer, I was intrigued by the prospect of playing Grey Goo. That being said, I was a little unsure of what to expect, given that the game’s title sounded a little…unsophisticated. However, given that Grey Goo was produced by Petroglyph, whose development team features a number of people who were responsible for the likes of Command & Conquer and Dune II, my expectations were relatively high.
Fortunately the experienced team at Petroglyph have delivered a throwback RTS game that injects new life into the genre. Grey Goo is a bold and enjoyable reinvention of old-school RTS characteristics and gameplay mechanics.
Capture the catalyst.
The eponymous Grey Goo are one of the game’s three playable classes. These creatures are self-replicating nanobots that ruthlessly consume everything they come into contact with. Other factions present in the game are an alien race named the Beta, with whom the player begins the campaign, and finally Humans themselves. The storyline is simple but satisfying – the Goo represent a great threat, everyone is at war and the player can’t make any plot-altering choices to change the ending.
Rather than leave it to the player to make choices resulting in a myriad of potential endings, Grey Goo instead tells its enjoyable science fiction tale through numerous compelling cut scenes. In fact, the first thing that struck me about Grey Goo was the game’s impressive production values – each race is complex and distinct, from their visual appearance to their dialect and accents. The voice acting and effects are superior, and the attention to detail underlines the genuine variety Grey Goo has to offer.
Grey Goo’s gameplay mechanics largely complement its appealing, retro, purposely stylised presentation. One of the fundamentally unique characteristics of the gameplay is the fact that there is only one resource available to the player, regardless of faction. As such, this energy source (named the catalyst) becomes a key aspect to Grey Goo’s stratagems – the player and any opponent can only build units by first accessing it, and cannot build without it.
While the Human and Beta factions function in a relatively traditional way in terms of gameplay style, the Grey Goo really stand out as a unique concept in the RTS genre. The Goo are self-replicating units, emanating from a Mother Goo. The Mother Goo are essentially mobile headquarters – place them over a catalyst resource and they will split accordingly. Other units will form, including Mother Goos, which the player can move to additional resource pools to create other bases.
With only five missions per faction, the campaign itself might be considered a little on the short side. In my experience it felt more like an initial walkthrough of the various parts that comprise the game, or a lengthy tutorial of each class. The player does of course have the opportunity to get to grips with more in-depth strategies and tactics via Grey Goo’s multiplayer component, but it would have been nice if the campaign offered a little more longevity. That being said, thanks to its beautiful presentation, in-depth characterisation and well-delivered cinematic style, the fifteen missions on offer are more than enough to keep the player interested, albeit prone to encountering a couple of random spikes in difficulty.
Get stuck in.
Grey Goo, if you’ll excuse the pun, oozes originality. It’s a refreshing take on a classic style of real-time strategy gaming. Players shouldn’t be put off by the somewhat unappealing title. Grey Goo features a compelling story and an enjoyable gameplay experience. This is a game that’s well worth a look for any RTS fan that definitely brings something new to the table.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.