When I was young, I was always curious and somewhat shocked at times at the way people would become so enraged at the performance of machines. Verbal insults were sent flying, hands were clenched into balled fists, and some even resorted to kicks and blows against the offending piece of equipment that had let the angry human down. It seemed silly to me to personify a washing machine, vehicle or even a toaster to the point where the human believed the device was actually performing poorly with malice aforethought.
I gained a little bit more understanding and possibly even tolerance for these outbursts when machines became more intelligent. With the advent of computers, the marketing of various life accessories that can translate voice commands, and all sorts of other advances in technology, it is very easy to blame something that is "talking" to you as the source of the problem. But is it really?
Omega places you in the role of a newly hired employee for the Organization for Strategic Intelligence, or OSI. Your main responsibility as a Cybertank Engineer for OSI, is to design and program tanks which will allow armed, but completely unmanned, combat to take place. Your designs involve choosing fuel capacity, a weapon type, the tank's class (weight and armor), a scanner to "see and hear", a drive system for propulsion, and a choice of special items that will augment overall performance. As a new staff member, your security clearance level is initially limited, which is directly reflected in the amount of money you have in your budget to finance these items. Once you have selected the design of the body of the tank, the task of giving it a "brain" is the next step in the process, and this is not as easy as it may seem.
At your disposal is an entire language of commands that can be programmed into the tank's Artificial Intelligence, or AI. You will be the person who decides what your design will do on the battlefield. The weakness and strengths of the current buildout must be taken into consideration, as well as how your tank will be able to survive the onslaught of other tanks, should you encounter opposition. Should you program your creation to hide and wait until the dust settles, or charge headlong into any combat situation, attempting to crush whatever is in your path with repetitive or superior firepower? Fortunately, you are given computer simulations which allow you to test both the sustainability of your design and the soundness of your programming in an imaginary environment before actually going "live". Once you have gained enough confidence in your chance of success, you can then enter your tank into an actual combat evaluation. During this phase, your tank will be tested against other tanks to see how you fare. Success means a higher security clearance level, more money for your budget, and an Employee Evaluation certificate for your accomplishment!
If you are looking for a game with plenty of action, explosions, great graphics and sound, Omega is not the game for you. The graphics are simple, as is the sound, but both of these elements are not necessary for the purpose of the game. If you have any interest in robotics, programming, logistics and strategy, you have a perfect source within the world constructed by Omega. You are tasked with balancing the attributes of a physical machine (your tank) and then patterning the tank's brain to think and act according to your wishes, with survival as the end goal. Ultimately, the person who teaches the "brain" how to think is the one who will be responsible for the cursing, physical taunting, and outrage brought on by the type of people I mentioned at the beginning of the review. That person, the teacher, is now you. You might also want to consider the prospects of a future ruled by Skynet when programming your tank's AI.
Everything needed to play has been well documented and written in a format as though you were actually being indoctrinated into a large organization as a new employee. There are tutorials to familiarize you with game navigation, status display definitions, programming examples and reference appendices. I was very impressed with the amount of detail put forth to create an entire AI programming language, the interface to apply what you have learned, and the forethought that went into gaining and keeping a player's interest. The above-average learning curve requirements necessary to thoroughly enjoy Omega and the somewhat awkward directory navigation for loading and saving files lower what I would consider to be a near-perfect game for the genre to a four rating.
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