Meridian: New World, an independent real-time strategy title from Headup Games, is a functional game made by a single developer named Ede Tarsoly, who tried to build a unique RTS experience but in the end made a game lacking in imagination and heart.
The game’s story is pretty basic. Set in the distant future, the Earth Leadership has sent a large vessel, the Magellan, to colonize the planet, Meridian, as Earth can no longer support its overpopulation. Once there they encounter a faction of humans who also want to control the planet, but it’s never revealed who they are or how they got there.
In between missions, players visit the Magellan as Commander Daniel Hanson. Utilizing an isometric view, the player controls the commander and makes him walk from room to room, talking to different crewmembers and examining objects. However Starcraft II essentially does the same thing to better effect with a much faster point-and-click adventure mode aboard the ships.
Another feature of this game worthy of note is that any researched weapon type can be affixed to any vehicle or air fighter. Scouts, Chimeras (walking mech units), Light Tanks, and Fighters can all be fitted with standard lasers, chain guns for infantry, ion cannons for vehicles, rockets for enemy air as well as splash damage, long-range sniper lasers, and the ultra-useful plasma cannons which cause damage over time.
Even though there are only five different unit types, the selection of weapons these units can be fitted with brings in interesting combinations. However, no single unit seems worthy of praise. In Starcraft and Starcraft II we had useful, creative, awesome units like Siege Tanks: tanks that could transform to barrage the enemy or defend a base from ground attackers to equal acclaim. And, on the alien side, we had Zerglings: fast, cheaply-made alien dogs that could swarm an enemy base in seconds and make for a quick match win. In New World, there’s no creativity or awesomeness. No unit stands out and makes you want to cheer it on. Even the names of the units (except Chimeras) are bland: Troopers, Light Tanks, Scouts, Fighters. Where’s the imagination? To top things off, there’s no difference between factions. It’s not only just humans fighting humans, it’s humans fighting humans of the exact same type.
To his credit, though, the Mr. Tarsoly did try to institute a little creativity in the game’s commander powers, which the player unlocks as she levels up as commander. The major problem here, however, is that all of these abilities share an energy pool which regenerates over time. Even though players may be unlocking over a dozen abilities, they’re only going to be using about three of them, namely the two healing powers and maybe a fire rate spell, because using anything else would leave them with too little energy to heal their army.
Meridian: New World is, again, a functional game, but it lacks creativity, imagination, and soul. There’s very little to get excited about, and when you finish that campaign you won’t feel the need to come back. Maybe with some more creativity in unit design, a better story, and better voice acting, New World may win our hearts. For now, a return to the drawing board may be a good idea.