Based on the original Massive Assault game, and a sequel to the first online strategy game in the series, Massive Assault Network 2 is here to pit players from the Free Nations Union against those from the Phantom League in devastating online battles. Set a few hundred years into the future, these two nations are battling for control over twenty-five incredible planets. It is your task to choose a side and strategically create and deploy units in order to defeat your opponent. However, this seemingly simplistic task will not be easy as the easy to learn strategy is in fact full of depth; well-balanced units and highly games which never play out the same can keep players in this one for hours on end. The draw of this futuristic fighter and supreme domination against players worldwide is nearly impossible to overcome for any hardcore strategy fan.
Developed and published by Wargaming.net, MAN 2 is available for download from the Massive Assault Network website. For most gamers these days on broadband, this will not pose much of a problem, but those with slower connections may have issues with the 650 MB file size. It is an online-only turn-based strategy game, a faster connection will be of benefit to players even though it is not mandatory. Being the sequel to the popular and highly acclaimed 2004 turn-based strategy Massive Assault Network, MAN 2 brings the best of the original, updated graphics and new features to the table this time around.
Most notable of these is the ability to wage war completely online this time around. Players can now wait for another to move in more of a real-time fashion that eliminates the delay of hours or days between moves in the original Massive Assault Network game. Of course, this is still dependent on the fact that both you and your opponent are online at the same time, however, in practice this turns out to be the case quite often. For those who prefer the tried and true older method, games can still play out over time if desired. This play mode can be accomplished in one of two ways; either by connecting to the game server and making a move in an active game online, or by downloading the latest state of your current games and making your next moves offline, which will then be updated the next time you connect. With this flexibility, plus the addition of completely online gameplay, games can now take from minutes or hours to complete up to the days or weeks they took in the original game, depending on the players' preferences.
For beginners, Massive Assault Network 2 features AI opponents to start off practicing your skills before the online battles begin. An excellent, detailed tutorial is also available to get players used to the simple, but at the same time strategically complex, turn structure. Each player's turn is structured as follows: first is the Guerrilla phase, where any invaded country deploys the additional guerrilla troops that are allocated, second is the Combat phase, which involves movement and then firing upon enemy targets, then the Recruitment phase, where resources from your countries are allocated and new troops can be purchased, and finally the Disclosure phase, where players can choose to unveil their Secret Allies.
It is arguably the Secret Allies phase that adds depth to this game and raises it above some of the competition. This phase alone can determine the outcome of the game, and has the ability to turn the tides on any battle. To understand this phase, players must understand how games are setup when they start. First, depending on the map size, each player has a number of given locations that their opponent knows about, as well as several secret locations that they control that are not disclosed. To keep things from being obvious, there are also neutral countries on each map that no player controls, but that any player may invade during the gameplay. The Secret Allies are those locations that you initially have control over, but that your opponent will not know about until you disclose their location. Being unable to tell which unoccupied regions are the opponents Secret Allies and which are neutral make this game more dynamic than typical turn-based strategy games. Upon disclosure, players can place their troops in these countries as they normally would. This element makes the gameplay more interesting and tactical; before invading any given country, players must first check the bordering nations and risk that any of these may be a secret ally of the opposing nation.
The graphics of MAN 2 are quite impressive compared to other strategy games, especially considering the relatively small download size. The explosions and combat animations are nicely done, and the camera angles presented in replays of an opponents turn are highly polished. The 3D world is immersive and all of the units are easily distinguished at first glance. The sound effects are spot on, enhancing the visual experience.
Massive Assault Network 2 includes many optimizations and interface improvements over the original, as well as the ability to watch other games in progress. Other features include an excellent matching system that allows players to find other opponents to play against, 42 different land, air and sea units, of which 16 are new, a detailed award system that changes based on the number of games won against other players, and the ability to upload your own avatar. The goal for players is to improve their military ranking from Conscript up to Marshal.
With these improvements, Massive Assault Network 2 brings the same quality of strategic gameplay of the original, plus offers the ability for players to compete in real-time online. The excellent tutorial will get players up to speed quickly, and with the interface available, finding games is an easy task. From the highly addictive gameplay, to the excellent graphics and good sound effects, MAN 2 is a well-rounded package overall. Unfortunately, this game is geared towards hardcore turn-based strategy fans, and thus may not be for everyone.