ParaWorld Review

From the perspective of its story and setting, I’m really not quite sure what to make of ParaWorld. The game is set on a parallel Earth in which a group of scientists discover other parallel worlds. After seeking funding for their research from a Victorian-style scientific society, they are whisked to one of these parallel worlds in an airplane and dropped onto an island by parachute inside a crate. They land right outside the gates of “Viking Park”, which bear a striking resemblance to the Jurassic Park gates. Inside the gates they find a world populated with Vikings and dinosaurs. So our three scientist friends, who just happen to be expertly skilled with obscure bladed, chain, and missile weapons, set off to kill a bunch of people and creatures while spouting a hybrid of hip-hop and frat dude colloquialisms (yo bro, where are my peeps?). At this point you may be thinking that I should lay off of the spicy food after midnight, but I kid you not, this is the actual set-up for the game. Making things even odder is the fact the game doesn’t seem to be playing the story for laughs or trying to take itself too seriously – it’s almost as if this was the best that they could come up with to justify Vikings killing dinosaurs without exerting too much effort. Thankfully you can skip the painfully acted cutscenes and get right to the gameplay. Who cares all that much about the story in an RTS game anyway?

Once you get past the bizarre storyline you’ll find the gameplay to be pretty pedestrian. It follows your standard, basic RTS formula and aside from the dinosaurs and a minor interface enhancement you’re playing the same game you’ve played plenty of times before. You’ve got your three resources in the form of wood, stone, and food which must be harvested by your peons and brought back to a town center or resource collection structure. You can build barracks to create troops, buildings to research enhancements, cottages to increase your population cap, walls and gates for defense, etc., etc. Units fall into the standard categories – you’ve got archers/spearmen/warrior classes on foot and dinosaurs that serve as your mounted troops and siege engines. You even need to advance epochs in order to get access to the higher level units, although it’s not quite clear what advancing an epoch means in a world filled with Vikings and dinosaurs. Aside from the dinosaur graphics you could just as easily be playing a game of Age of Empires II, except that AOE II’s AI give you a lot more challenge than you’ll find here.

The game’s campaign doesn’t feature a lot of variety or challenge. The vast majority of missions basically boil down to wiping out the enemy base, which never seems to be that difficult to do. The enemy AI is not clever or aggressive enough to deal with a basic strategy of taking the battle straight to the enemy’s base.

The game includes three factions, the afore and oft mentioned Vikings, the arabesque Dustriders, and the Asian-inspired Dragon Clan. The Vikings tend to be more defensive in nature (I guess that in this parallel world the Vikings were stay at home types), the Dustriders more offensive, and the Dragon Clan are specialists in traps. Of the three, the Dragon Clan is the most original with its array of traps to snare and kill unsuspecting enemies, but this mechanic is less exciting in practice than it sounds in principle.