For those unsure Wikipedia gives a decent explanation of just what exactly Grey Goo is. So it’s something sci-fi fans and gamers should be pretty familiar with. But it’s also the name of an upcoming game. And one that a lot of us will agree is more important than something as silly as the end of the world. I got to play hands on during Gamescom for far longer than I should have done until sadly we had to leave. I mean we were there playing for a long time. And I loved every nanosecond of it.
Grey Goo is an RTS that’s stuck in the past in all the right ways and forward thinking in all the others. There’s no way to describe it other than an old-school RTS. The RTS Genre has changed a lot since the golden age of C&C and a few titles still excite me. But nobody ever tried to make a game like the old days just with a few changes. There are so many things I miss from an old-school RTS that could work if only they were updated or tweaked. Enter Grey Goo.
Grey Goo certainly doesn’t fix things that don’t need fixing. So base building is back in a big way. A good base layout can be the difference between success and failure. To gather resources you will build a harvester on a resource point and let the harvester do the work. There are no builder units, thank god, to get constantly pestered by the AI. Aircraft need an airbase to launch from and return to. It all feels incredibly comfortable, familiar and welcome territory.
But Grey Goo’s excellence lies in its factions. Initially I played as the Beta. There isn’t particularly a focus for this faction but they do have the rather nifty ability to socket their robotic walker-like troops into defensive towers and even some epic units. And then I played the humans who make very good turtles. Yes there is actually a faction just for those of us who love to sit there and build bases before crushing our enemies. At last a faction designed for turtling. But the downside is that each building must be attached to a power node which acts like a huge wire that you lay down as you would a wall. Careful base planning is a must for this faction.
Each of these two factions also uses a clever building system where factories and the like are specialized using different nodes that attach to them. For instance you build a factory which is capable of building only basic units. For example attaching a certain node allows it to specialize and build artillery units. For more powerful units you will need multiple nodes and, again, careful planning.
And then there’s the Goo. They don’t have buildings at all. They have a ‘MotherGoo’ at the start which is a giant grey blob (that looks awesome!). To create units or units capable of becoming other units you will have to split off sections of the MotherGoo. To gather resources your goo will sit on a resource pile and just absorb it. It’s hands down the most unique faction I’ve ever seen in an RTS. Ever.
There’s so much depth and so many awesome features that it’s impossible to fit everything into this article. I haven’t seen factions like this since Yuri’s Revenge or C&C Generals: Zero Hour. And even then nothing remotely similar to the Grey Goo ‘faction’. Most of my time at the presentation was spent discussing things that to most would seem trivial. Like “do air units return to base after they’ve used their ammo or reload and return to their previous location?” which the guys had clearly been discussing already. And when I noticed at one point when I built a gate in a wall a unit actually turned around to go on the shorter route. This attention to detail will undoubtedly make Grey Goo a joy to play.
A majority of the crew are ex Westwood guys which makes them responsible for a big portion of my childhood and the main reason I love RTS’s today. Those games were some of the first I ever played and Grey Goo is a chance for that golden age to return. The detailing is just incredible in every respect and the visuals are nothing short of beautiful. And another thing the team is, rightly, proud of is that the AI is highly intelligent and doesn’t cheat to create the challenge. And it’s tough to beat even on the lower difficulties. If you even have a vague interest in RTS’s keep at least one eye firmly on this game.