Under Control Review

I’ve reviewed a ton of different browser-based strategy games. If you take a look at my previous reviews, you’ll find that I’m not necessarily a big fan of them. In fact, there are very few that can catch and keep my interest for any length of time, and that is for a very simple reason: Pay-to-Win. You’re familiar with the concept and I talk about this every time, so I’m going to keep it short. Do I believe that all games should be completely free? Absolutely not, everyone has to eat eventually, even developers. If you didn’t pay them something at some point, the game would simply shut down, and then you’d be moving on to the next crappy browser strategy game. Now that we have so many different ones to choose from, the question is, why would you choose this one in particular? Under Control is a bit different from many other games that I’ve played in the past, but it still milks you for money pretty early in the game. Still, there are some things to like about it.

Under Control - Dialogue

 

The Basics

The game, at its core, is pretty much just like any other. You get a base with limited area to build in, and you’re restricted to specific plots. Fortunately, the game doesn’t seem to break the land plots into specific categories, so you’re free to build whatever you want so long as you meet the base requirements.

The base requirements for building structures is typically level, though it can extend to the tech that you have researched, which we’ll get to in a moment. Naturally, as you progress though the game you’re going to be given access to new technology, but when it comes right down to it, the entire point of the game is to build troops, deploy them in warzones, and watch the mayhem. This is split into two different branches: single player missions and alliance missions. The single player missions are designed as instances in which you will test your mettle against the AI. Alliance missions are a bit different and will require significantly more firepower, hence why they are called alliance missions. When you start the game, you can’t expect to simply join an alliance as you will need to reach level 15 to even apply, and I notice that many in the Under Control Strategy Game were not actually accepting new members. It’s all a matter of finding the right clan and being the right level.

Under Control - World Map

Looking Around your Base

The base has the standard fare of buildings, but one I would like to call particular attention to is the barracks. This is where you build your infantry, or rather train them, and you have several slots in which to do so should you choose to purchase the corresponding upgrades. Now something I’d like to mention about this barracks, and the training, is that once you choose to train the troops (you have two to choose from initially) they will begin to ‘practice,’ which is exemplified by an animation where they fire from within the barracks and onto a firing range located outside. For some reason, the firing range is located at the edge of the barracks and facing the road. So yeah, the soldiers are training by firing in the road, and it is implied that there are a lot of civilian engineers wandering around the base, so I apologize in advance to any who were shot in the face while wandering around.

The rest of the buildings are standard fare, with research vehicles and all manner of other things you’ll need to wage all out war on anyone who gets in your way. Of course, the combat here is a bit unique when held in comparison to other games, and we’re going to get to that in the next section.

Under Control - Base

One thing I would like to bring attention to is that you can expand your base once you meet the prerequisites, and it is actually carried out in a way that makes sense. The cool thing about base expansion in this game is that the areas you can expand to are readily available, but you need to repair bridges or remove obstacles in order to make them usable. In the same manner, you can clear debris in your own base in order to build new structures – a necessity before you are able to expand to new areas. Once you get your own area under control then you can look to new horizons.

Fighting it Out

I’m not going to lie, when I first started playing I was really, really impressed by the combat. Basically what it boils down to is having a battlefield with a grid overlay. The grid is visible at the planning stage (when you insert your troops), and whenever you decide to call in reinforcements during a battle. When you do call in reinforcements they simply walk in off the map, though there are some instances where they will be inserted precisely where you click, such as with paratroopers.

In addition to that, there are various abilities such as artillery that will devastate the area that you select, which gives you a huge advantage. As the soldiers and tanks are deployed to the battlefield, and move in various directions, you begin to get the feeling that there is far more control in this game than in other types of browser-based strategy games. However, once you get past the presentation and really look at it, you’ll realize that you have just as little control over the battle, and the only thing that’s really different is the ability to call in reinforcements when you need them. The computer has the game Under Control, but you certainly don’t.

Under Control - Battle

 

So what does determine the outcome of a battle exactly? Well, the usual things. The amount of research you do at your base, the number of troops you’ve created (it takes a lot of time), and, of course, the amount of money that you’ve poured into the game.

Pay to Win : Not so Subtle

Most browser strategy games at least go to the trouble of making you think that you can enjoy the game without spending large amounts of money while quietly draining your wallet and making you wonder what happened to your food budget or perhaps your child’s college fund  in some cases. This game, on the other hand, does not take the subtle route, and in fact demands money up front for soldiers, tanks, quicker research, and a plethora of other things that you’ll need to accelerate your gameplay.

Can you play the game without them? Sure, but it’s going to be very, very slow. Slower in fact than most other browser strategy games, I might add. If you join an alliance, you’re going to want to sink a bit of money in, especially if you want to help on the missions. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how the game is played. It’s a money hole and it doesn’t try to hide that fact. Still, it’s a military dystopia enthusiast’s wet dream, and it definitely plays on a lot of military clichés. You might just like it if you’re into that sort of thing.

Under Control - Buy Research

Gameplay 5/10

It’s just more of the same, it’s all been rehashed, reused, and regurgitated half a million times. Of course it does pretty well at implementing all of it, which makes for quite a bit of fun, at least until you reach the point where you need to spend money. The troop deployment to the various battlefields was pretty neat too, so I wouldn’t say it’s a complete wash.

Innovation 2/10

As I mentioned above, it’s just more of the same, and the only reason I’m giving it a 2, instead of a flat 0, is because the grid overlay looks really cool. In addition to that, you do have a little bit of control over the flow of the battle as you can call in artillery strikes as well as reinforcements, but your troops do as they please, even if they’re just walking into an ambush. The battles play themselves out, you just have control over the administrative side of it.

Community 6/10

The community is pretty typical. If you’re in an alliance they’ll be glad to help you out, but if not, you’re sort of on your own. If you have enough money you can be the very best, like no one was before, and everyone will like you.

Graphics/Sound 8/10

For all of its faults, the game sounds pretty good. The music is great with very detailed sounds, this might be my favorite feature altogether. Additionally, the graphics are pretty good for a browser game. They clearly put some thought into that part of it.

Value for Money 2/10

You can spend your money here, and it’ll just ask you for more money. You know, the whole ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ parable. The game is fun at first, and you’ll be tempted to buy a few things, but in the end it’s not very satisfying. You could have spent that money on something more productive, like a potential cure for cancer, or girl scout cookies.

Under Control - Troop Placement

Overall: 4/10

Pros:

+Good Graphics

+Smooth Gameplay

+Fun Missions

Cons:

-Ridiculously Pay-to-Win

-Slow Paced

-No Control over Battles

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About Rissa Trent

Rissa grew up on a farm, playing shareware games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Operation Comat, Solar Winds, and Kingdom of Kroz. Later she would dabble in Real Time Strategy games, and eventually left home to go on a cross country adventure of self discovery where she found out absolutely nothing. Today she works as a copywriter and games journalist.