Glest is a 3D realtime strategy game (or RTS) set in a sort of pseudo medieval Europe. The game, as of version 2, features two factions, Tech and Magic. Each faction also has their own unit types, buildings and tech tree (ie more stuff to do later). As typical with RTS games there are resources to gather and mine.
On starting up the game you are presented with a menu with the world of Glest moving in the background. Although the game is on version 2, soon 2.1, the presentation is a bit sparse. I suppose for a free game you could forgive this. As when you get into the game itself you will be quite pleasantly suprised. It’s not what you could call an AAA game but the graphics and gameplay are good enough nonetheless, in fact pretty good for an open source game.
If you are familiar with RTS games then you will probably feel right at home here. At the start of the game you have a handful of units and one main building. The magic faction starts with mage tower whilst the the tech faction has a castle. This is where your basic units are created.
The interface is quite clutter free with just the essentials on screen and the rest for the game. At the top of the screen is a bar at showing your resources available, gold, stone and wood, on the right is your faction management options. It’s here where you get to build, upgrade and research new stuff. Rolling over each option tells you what it is and what resources are required.
Both factions have a tech tree to traverse to get more units and abilities. There arn’t that many buildings, units, spells, etc to research but what is there is pretty good. The magic faction get to summon dragons and demon giants to fight their cause whilst the tech faction can build devastating catapaults and strange medieval battle walkers. There are also various flying units such as the air balloon. This makes it great fun to look forward to getting those units out to fight.
The magic faction has some great effects when casting spells which to the atmosphere. Summoners can, funnily enough, summon creatures to battle. Instead of building factories build a summoner. The summoner can bring in demons, Magic Armour (a walking battle suit) and dragons. The opposite to this for the Tech faction is to build a Blacksmith to produce fighters. The mix is great and seems to be well balanced.
However, we found a few glitches in the game. The tutorial was a bit inaccurate. While we were asked to build a certain structure, we found we did not have enough resources and we weren’t yet taught how to mine for or gather resources, by that time. Moreover, the game is extremely slow and the lighting is also pretty low, be it any time of the day or night. Moreover, notification of buildings built or a worker getting idle would have been very useful.
Glest’s theme is mainly a forest. Each unit has it’s own animations rendered in 3D. The ogre giant and battle walkers dwarf the other units.
Sound is probably one of the most underused element in many open source projects but Glest’s effects really boost the games appeal. The music is well composed and quite pleasant to. Each unit has their own response when you click on them or send them to do a task. The stone golem and magic armour are paricularly good with gravely hollow voices.