Long time gamers around the world will likely recognize the name of one of the greatest turn based strategy games of all time – Scorched Earth. Scorched Earth was created by Wendell Hicken in 1991. With great humbleness, he deemed it the “Mother of All Games.” Whether or not you agree, one this is for certain – Scorched Earth consumed many hours of our lives back in the 90s. Your friendly author is no exception.
I really like turn-based strategy games, because it’s a lot like chess on a whole different level. A few cool games previously covered at MakeUseOf include those like the cartoonish Raft Wars. The beauty of Scorched Earth wasn’t just the graphics – which, at the time were fairly decent.
The real beauty of this game was that no two situations or battlefields were exactly the same. You choose your weapons and shields, and then enter the battlefield against a computerized opponent that represented one of the more advanced examples of artificial intelligence at the time. The AI enemy would gradually land missiles and bombs closer to you. Your goal for survival – take out the enemy before he takes you out.
For those of you who became addicted to Scorched Earth, what could be better than a complete redesign of that original concept, with the latest computer graphics, animation and sound effects? Enter Scorched 3D – the product of an amazing open source design team from the UK that recreated the old classic in 2009.
Optimizing the Scorched 3D Configuration
When you first launch Scorched 3D, there are two things that you’re sure to notice – the graphics and the sound. The opening scene is a fairly impressive image of a rocky island in the middle of an endless sea. The background soundtrack is very cool. It’s hard to believe that this is a free, open source game.
Optimizing the settings for your system is fairly straightforward. Focusing on the resolution and whether you play the game in full screen will ensure that the game doesn’t crash your system. If you have an awesome graphics card, go ahead and play full-screen in high res, but if you have a standard video card it’s best to keep the default resolution and remove “Full Screen.”
Another important area in the setup is the configuration screen for the control keys. The game is pretty straightforward – you’ve got your aiming controls which are up, down left and right, and of course firing your weapon. Also, you can adjust the power level of your shot with either Page Up/Down or the “+” and “-” keys.
When you first launch the game – you have an opportunity to choose your weaponry. Are you going to used a high-power turret, or a more mobile unit, like the A.T.S.T. Walker (of Star Wars fame) or a plain old Abrams tank?
Once you click ‘Play’ – the game begins. Prepared to get blown away by the quality of this game. There’s weather, high quality animation like birds, incoming missiles and ships in the background. The game makers did a brilliant job creating an atmosphere of a battlefield, and so it’s very easy to immerse yourself in this virtual world.
As shown above, your particular weapon is highlighted when it’s your turn. The red and blue lines represent your elevation selection, and you can spot enemy bots highlighted with their name and an arrow.
At the lower right corner of the screen, you’ll find your weapon status including fuel level, life level and what sort of defenses and shielding you have enabled. Grab and move the scene around with your mouse, and use the right mouse button to rotate the scene. Turn your weapon (or move it, if you have fuel), adjust the power level of your shot, and then fire. Pay close attention to where your missile lands, that will help you make the right adjustments for a more accurate shot next time.
The game animation is just awesome. In this next scene, my turret was perched on the side of a mountain, and I moved the 3D scene down to the level of the enemy bot named Jezebel so that I could get a good look at where the missile lands. You can see the enemy tank at the base of the mountain, and here comes my incoming missile – a bit of an overshot.
Status indicators over your own weapon and the enemy show the remaining “life.” Make enough direct or nearby hits, and eventually you’ll destroy the enemy. Of course, a game like this just wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t offer network play where you can compete against real players from across the world. This just takes Scorched Earth to a whole new level of competition and addictive fun.
On the main screen, just click “Play Online” and you’ll be presented with a list of active and available servers from across the world. The server screen shows the number of players already in the game, what round they are actively playing, and the game setup – either turn by turn – or a “TurnSimultaneous” free-for-all which is a real blast to play.
If you’re up for some battlefield strategy, cool weaponry and a lot of explosions – then try out Scorched 3D and let us know what you think of the game. How does it compare to other commercial games like it? Do you know of any similar turn based strategy battlefield games? Share your insight in the comments section below.