Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lux Review

Lux PC, developed and published by Sillysoft Games.
The Good: Online play, map editor, smart AI, in-game radio, user-created plugins
The Not So Good: Lux spelled backwards is Xul, which is hard to pronounce
What say you? The definitive game of world domination: 7/8

I’ll make this simple: if you want to play a Risk computer game, buy Lux. It’s got the features that not many other games of this ilk have. You want to know more? All right, Mr. Greedy Pants, read on.

Being a Risk game, the game takes place on a map. Lux has some really nice effects for a game that uses a 2D map, such as blinking countries and explosions. Everything about the interface is very clean and polished. Too often, game developers seem to think that adding 3D will make their game better. It’s nice to see some people who’d rather perfect 2D and make it look really good. The sound effects do their job, informing the player of their turn, and giving a cry when defeated. Nothing special, but they accomplish their goal.

Lux has a ton of features for a Risk game. First, the game comes with a good number of maps, not just the classic Risk layout (although that is there as well). If you don’t like the maps, you can design your own using the extremely easy to use map editor. Creating maps is as easy as connecting lines or importing pictures and defining the boundaries. Some people have made some spectacular maps, covering the American Revolution, the D-Day invasion, Turner Field, the Roman Empire, Vietnam, World War I, and even some hex based maps. There are literally hundreds of maps available, and installing them is one click away using the in-game plugin manager. The plugin manager tells you all the maps that have been uploaded, and even if there is a newer version of a map you have installed. The community has really latched on to this one, creating some outstanding maps. And if creating a map isn’t your thing, the game can generate a random one on the spot to a specific size. Connecting to an Internet game is easy as well, using the in-game browser. I’ve had no issues with the browser in Lux, and it gives complete information about the games, from the number of players left in the match to a rundown of all the rules. This is far beyond the bug-ridden browser included with Battlefield 2. Once you complete an on-line game, your score is recorded and uploaded to the world wide rankings list, similar to Battlefield 2. The AI in Lux is very crafty, each employing a different strategy to win the game. These strategies were derived from winning tactics of human players, and the AI can adapt to any strange map you throw at it. And if you don’t like the AI, there is an AI editor where you can create your own. Finally, there’s even a radio (although most of the stations don’t work) so you can listen to live music using an installed media player.

Lux is easily the best Risk clone available for the PC. It has tons of features that extend the longevity of the title past the ten-minute attention span other games have. The robust map editor would be reason enough to recommend the game, but excellent AI, online play, and other features move Lux in to the upper echelon of computer games. If you have no friends to play Risk with you (or even if you do), don’t hesitate to shell out the $25 for Lux: it’s half the price for more than double the fun.