There’s no way around it; Executive Assault is an awesome concept but the game just didn’t deliver for me. I was very excited to review this game: who hasn’t played a real-time strategy game where you’re commanding armies and wished they could get down into the action!? It’s a small addition, but it’s the hook for this title. And honestly, it’s what RTS games have needed for a long time. You can play as the CEO of your corporation, exploring the base you create and interacting with the world like you might expect from a first person shooter, or you can assume direct control of your bots and try your hand at repelling the invading forces… maybe even do some invading of your own! But despite this awesome addition, the rest of the experience fell flat.
Let’s start with the basis of any complicated game: the tutorials. If progression through a scenario is going to be self-driven, one of two things need to happen. Either the research/quests/characters help guide you to your next step or you are placed in a simple area to begin with and then you progress to more complicated places once you’ve mastered the basics. However, you can also just put the player in a complex situation, show a quick tutorial, and see how they do! Unfortunately, Executive Assault falls somewhere in between these two, leaving the player feeling a bit confused and unprepared.
The first tutorial essentially gives you an incredibly fast overview of your next 45 minutes in-game. Ummmm… was I supposed to be taking notes!? The steps they show are the optimal routes to get from point A to point B, which leaves no room for misunderstanding or mistakes. So when the video finished and I had to remember the first building they placed, I knew this was not going to be a fun experience for me. I struggled through creating drones and deploying them to collect iron… and then my enemy sent over a bot to assassinate me and it was Game Over, man.
In my next attempt, I was interrupted and forced to pause my game. Except that I couldn’t figure out how to pause the game. I struggled to bring up any useful menu where the action on the map didn’t continue without me. Frustrated, I alt tabbed away but the game continued. Of course I was dead again when I returned. On my third try, I did manage to get a bit further and had a few defenses in place when my attackers came calling.
Eager to engage in an actual battle, I selected all my bots, chose attack mode, and went to click on the invaders. Nothing. I tried again, tried right and left click, skipped pressing attack mode, each time no movement from my troops as the enemy came closer and closer. Knowing I was about to die again, I went into FPS mode on one bot and ‘ran’ toward the enemy infantry. I closed the distance and took out the two attackers, but then a tank rolled up behind them. Lights out for the bot, soon followed by lights out for me.
As it turns out, you have to zoom in and select the actual infantrymen instead of the tag that floats above their head. Who knew!?
My final attempt was to use the two cheats available for the map, fast research and infinite money. Even in this mode, it was difficult to tell what to do and apparently my enemies got the same bonus because it wasn’t very long at all before missiles and gunships were raiding my tiny corporation.
All in all it’s a fun little game with outdated graphics, clunky controls, an obtuse progression system, and an unbalanced AI. Maybe you’ll be able to overcome these hurdles and enjoy the core concept which really sets this game apart from other RTS offerings. Or maybe you’ll be like me and happily file this game away as a neat idea for someone else to expand upon. Either way, be sure to keep an eye on any future projects from Hesketh Studios as they promise to be innovative, at the very least!