By Eric Hill | Contributor Published: 08/31/2013 11:16 am EST
Oil Rush is a game that takes a simple style and turns it into something more, and while that’s not enough to make a game great, Oil Rush does it in such a way as to leave the player getting more with less. Based on a type of flash game the likes of which I first encountered on websites like Kongregate, it’s a game about troop placement and division rather than brute force and hard counters.
The gameplay is based around platforms that produce units over time until that unit type’s cap is reached. These units stay at those points until directed elsewhere. Each point produces one kind of unit. When you want to attack, you send units from a point, or multiple points, to the places you’re attacking. Fighting ensues, but aside from a command tree of abilities that you have at your disposal, you don’t influence the battle after telling your units where to go.
That’s where I think Oil Rush’s value comes in, too. Unlike most tactical games where you can micromanage your way to victory, Oil Rush requires that you understand the value of good troop positioning. From any platform, you can divide your troops up by twenty-five, fifty, and one hundred percent values, meaning you don’t have to send all your troops out at once. And that’s the trick: knowing when to send troops, how many to send, and where to send them to. In the realm of philosophical strategizing, you wage war either by attrition, wearing the enemy down, or maneuver, outflanking them. While Oil Rush certainly has elements of attrition-based warfare in it, it’s really a lesson in out maneuvering your opponent. If you leave your platforms exposed by sending all of your troops, you’re likely to find yourself gaining points on one side of the map only to find yourself losing points on the other side. Building towers helps, but they’re expensive and you’d be surprised just how fast they go down in the face of a dedicated assault. Besides, oil platforms can’t build towers, so turtling isn’t really an option.
Oil Rush has an amazing unit selection, lending it a superb flavor. While the game itself is difficult to master, the game offers no shortage of dynamic units that make strategizing a joy. Each unit has multiple attack types, meaning they can handle encounters from varied sources. The units also range, too, with air units that specialize in capturing points and heavy ships specializing in taking on other ships. I’m always impressed by a game that achieves variety while not sacrificing simplicity, and that’s what Oil Rush does.
The one black eye on an otherwise great game is its campaign. The characters are weak, and the objectives lack import. Units are also introduced way too slowly for my taste, and while that’s not something I’d mention if the missions had depth and complexity to them, units were really the only thing that kept me playing. And even though you exist in a post-apocalyptic environment, you won’t feel the angst commonly associated with such a setting. It’s kind of like Waterworld without the drama of a race clearly on its last legs.. I mean, sure, there’s a lot of desolation, but that hasn’t stopped us from having a civilization, apparently, complete with airfields and submarines. In the end, simple games need great tone, otherwise they feel mundane and tedious. Oil Rush’s campaign, with names like “Commander” for characters, is anything but tonally impressive.
Oil Rush is a great change of pace for most tactics oriented gamers, and while the story isn’t great, the game makes up for it by having great gameplay accessible via multiplayer. If you’re looking for a distinct flavor in competitive gaming, look no further. If you’re looking for story, there’s always Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
An avid gamer, cigar smoker, and addicted hat wearer, Eric is trapped in an online gaming universe that consists of DOTA 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Starcraft II. If you're reading this, send help.