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(as published in PC Gamer. I am the original author)

Uprising 2

Category: Strategy

Developer: Cyclone Studios

Publisher: 3DO Studios,

System Requirements: Win 95/98; Pentium 166; 32MB RAM; 300MB hard drive space

We Recommend: Pentium II 266; 64MB RAM; 3Dfx-based 3D-accelerator

Multi-player: Modem 28.8 or better; IPX; TCP/IP; maximum players - 8

I’m one of those guys that thinks the music industry took a turn for the worse when the switch was made from vinyl to plastic. It’s probably been five years since I’d heard an old “LP”, but at a Holiday party I recently attended, someone put needle to groove and the memories came flooding back. That warm tone cut through the cacophony of the festive gathering, raising my spirit in the same way that running into an old friend that you haven’t seen in a long while might do. Uprising 2 is the cold CD re-release to the original Uprising’s vinyl warmth.

Uprising 2 begins a hundred years after the original’s conclusion, though not much more information is given in the manual. Uprising had a wonderful science fiction story included in the handbook that spanned several pages. It sucked you in to the circumstances, giving you some background and explaining the reason for the conflict. U2’s terse manual simply says it’s in the future and begins explaining the uninstall procedures, failing to draw me into a universe that I once loved, and leaving me with a somewhat detached feeling.

The Imperium, the bad boys from Uprising, have been defeated and this time around we enjoy the triad of doom; the Trich, the Comerran and the Androkulan. The Trich’s air units have sharply angled wings, taking on almost Bablyon 5-ish appearance, and the infantry sport the cyborg/amphibian look that’s so popular among the galactic no-good set these days. The Comerran air units are actually helicopters, a neat graphical update, while the Androkulan sky-boys pilot units look like obese bats. The ground troops look and play very similarly, with only subtle differences, such as the Androkulan’s ability to dive underground and disappear, distinguishing them.

The designers of the game missed a great opportunity to advance the Uprising experience. The new units and buildings may look different but they are essentially a carbon copy of what came before. The battles take place on worlds that feature steeper terrain than the original, adding some small degree of difficulty, but the same volcanic rivers, ice worlds, and pseudo techno-desert settings remain. Inclement weather effects have been added, such as rain and snow, but again, nothing that advances the game.

Some real changes come in the form of the support units under your control. These are broken down into sub-genres, which are expanded upon from the original. The light tank, heavy tank and BMS sites provide upgraders with a few additional capabilities on the battlefield. There are also a variety of new weapons that can be fired from the Wraith, including the ever-popular Nuke Strike (and in an incredibly easy and commercial creation, the appropriate Patriot sites to counteract this).

The daunting interface that intimidated many players in the first game has been refined, and newcomers to the series looking for a quick adrenaline rush will be thankful for that. With a few mouse clicks, one can be beamed to another planet and wreaking havoc in a matter of moments. The disturbing factor here is the totally revamped keyboard configuration. The Uprising games’ variety of units and weapons tend to make for some complex control issues and those that took the time to become fluent at these keystrokes in the first installment have been left out in the cold in the sequel. Although you do have the option to re-map the controls, it is an unexplained slap to the face of past customers to entirely overhaul the keyboard. In addition, there is now a feature labeled “autocall”. Every function, other than manning your weapons, can be handed over to the AI thereby reducing the game to a “how fast you can fire” contest and nothing more. While this may appeal to the cerebrally challenged gamer, this feature, if misused, cheapens the game tremendously, and the creative points scored by the original, with its melding of war game-like tactics and operations, combined with the visceral action of a shooter, disappear.

The continued push toward a more commercialized “dumbing down” of the game continues in a variety of areas. While the original’s musical score was bombastic and symphonic, greatly enhancing the urgency and spirit of revolution, the guitar driven, synth-laden rock score of Uprising 2 is corporate at best. Furthering the safe, pop image of U2 is the addition of some anonymous commanding officer that appears via audio from time to time to push you toward an objective or reprimand you for lollygagging. Unlike the excellent voice characters of the higher ups in Battlezone, this guy is so polished and smooth he reminds of Casey Kasem. I expected him to break in to “Here’s a long distance request for a little mutant back in the Nova system…it’s Cheap Trich …Surrender.” I found his inclusion totally unnecessary and it destroyed any pretenses of being in “command” on the surface of the planet.

Other sounds in the game are decent though not ground breaking. Uprising 2 shakes your speakers with the standard laser whooshes and low frequency explosions, though it feels like you’ve heard them all before. Even the main voice of the “system administrator” that reports the status of game parameters has been changed, and not necessarily for the better. The unemotional female that set the mood nicely in the original has become a guy that sounds like Lurch of The Addams Family after a carton of Pall-Mall non-filters.

Multi-player action is well implemented and has been expanded from four players in the original to the current eight, and the Mplayer and HEAT on-line gaming services are supporting the game. The obligatory deathmatch, as well as a futuristic race where the crowd is armed and dangerous, are included and the competition can take place via LAN, TCP/IP, or modem.

There is sure to be some bad blood concerning the system requirements of Uprising 2. If you just spent $200 on that hot new TNT board, you’re out of luck and stuck in software mode; the game is only available in its 3D accelerated glory for owners of a 3Dfx chipset. This is also the first game that’s exposed my Voodoo2 for the aging piece of technology that it is. With a Pentium II 450 and 64MB RAM, my 8MB card was chugging pretty heavily at 800x600 and all the graphic options set on maximum. When I backed off to 640x480 though, everything was fairly pleasant. For the full effect, this game screams for an SLI configuration and a boatload of memory.

Overall, I came away feeling cold and uninvolved in the confrontations of Uprising 2. This game is not without merit, especially for those who did not play the brilliant initial chapter of the series. Some of the campaign elements have been changed for the better, such as the post-battle reports, though I couldn’t really care less how many miles I had driven my Wraith. There are new weapons to deploy, some excellent new lighting effects, and a graphical updating of the opponents. If you have never played Uprising, do yourself a favor and check out the bargain bins; it’s a better game than the sequel. If you own and enjoy the original, you may find, like I did, that Uprising 2 seems to have lost something important; the spirit, the feel, the warmth that began with the graphics, continued through the sounds, and filtered down to the gameplay. Most everything that made Uprising special and unique is gone in the sequel. Not unlike the Obi-Wan quote concerning Anakin Skywalker, “He’s more machine now than man”, so goes the Uprising sequel. It’s more of a shooter now than anything else, and the better part of the soul of this award winner evaporated when the decision was made to move the series violently toward the mainstream. The gaming world suffers because of it.


FPS? RTS? What is this game?

The original Uprising was a favorite among gaming insiders, garnering many awards, but failing to make a major impact in overall sales numbers. It might be considered gaming’s best kept secret.

For those who have not had a chance to lay waste to Citadels and grind infantry into mincemeat with delightful glee, here’s the scoop: You are situated inside a Wraith, a tank-like vehicle with special capabilities. From inside this command vehicle, you may teleport various support units onto the battlefield in support of your attack or defense. Bombers, AAV’s (fighters), tanks, infantry and the like assist you in destroying enemy command posts called Citadels. Destroy the enemy Citadel, and place your own in their place, along with tank plants, AAV facilities, etc., to grow stronger. Currency is derived from power that is sapped from the core of planets, tapped via power generators that are also clustered around Citadels. Turrets and SAM sites help defend the command post. The Wraith on it’s own cannot defeat the enemy, so support units are vital, thereby creating a melding of the two genres of FPS and real-time strategy.

Final Verdict

Score: 78%

Highs: Excellent lighting effects; some new units and weapons; improved interface

Lows: Autocall eliminates strategy elements, voice actor ruins command effect; not enough new to warrant upgrade

Bottom Line: The original is a masterpiece while Uprising 2 takes the commercial, safe road. Wait for Battlezone 2 if you own the first and love the genre.

Post edited February 25, 2019 by davedial