The Average Gamer

Under Siege Review (PS3/PSN)

Under Siege is the first PS3 game from independent developers Seed Studios, whose producer Filipe Pina was interviewed by Debbie back in December 2010. As the PS3 isn’t exactly inundated with RTS games, it is nice to find and play one that has been built from scratch for the platform, including support for the Move controller. Read on to find out how I got on with the game.

The Citadel

The Under Siege single player campaign starts off in the suitably wintery landscape of ‘The North’, and follows a small group of rebel soldiers in their battle against the oppressive regime of The Citadel. Starting with only two types of units under your control, soldiers and archers, the five chapters of the game take you across a variety of environments, including swampy lowlands and ancient temples. As you progress, you get to level up your units, using cash or in-game experience, and you can add to your unit types, as you free comrades and adopt allies along your journey.

During the first few minutes of gameplay, Under Siege slowly introduces you to its action orientated take on RTS, but before the end of the first mission, you realise that this game will not be a walk in the park. With no requirement to build or collect resources, the game boils down to finding solid strategies which you can use to take out the wide variety of enemy unit types that are thrown your way, often having to change things around on the fly. Whilst the enemies encountered are not overly blessed with intelligence, what they lack in cunning is usually made up for in terms of sheer numbers. During one Chapter 2 mission, I had to kill a total of 277 enemy units with my little 10 man team (admittedly not all at once).

Mission types are varied, and range from escorting VIPs to protecting villages and taking down large enemy bosses. Fog of war is used in some maps, but I preferred the levels without it, as the fog would often leave me surrounded by enemies on four sides, with no prior warning, and a limited field of vision. On this note, I did find the camera a little frustrating, as I would have liked to be able to zoom out further, in order to get a wider view of the battlefield. The default ‘zoomed out’ view is still too close to the action, in my opinion, and the ‘zoomed in’ view, whilst looking pretty, is not terribly functional.

Progress in Under Siege can be slow at times, with the high difficulty level resulting in the replay of many sections of the game, either through outright failure, or by losing too many units during battle. With the levelling up process requiring you to keep at least one member of a unit alive, and limited resources with which to upgrade between rounds, cumulative narrow victories may seriously hamper your chances to progress through the game. The flip side to this high difficulty level is the strong sense of achievement that you get when you finally nail a particularly tough section.

>Controlling the action

The controls in Under Siege have understandably been kept simple, and are generally pretty intuitive. Squads can be assigned to the D-Pad and sent into battle with the click of a button. Each unit type also has two special abilities that can be activated with the triangle and circle buttons when needed, such as healing, taunts, flaming arrows, slowing darts and protection spells. The game offers support for the Playstation Move controller, which works pretty well, but I actually found the Dualshock method just as responsive, and more comfortable to use during longer sessions.

Visually, Under Siege makes a very good impression, with a nice range of environments and units types and some neat visual effects. The cut scenes that punctuate the action feature Manga style representations of the main characters, and fit well with the rest of the game. I have to confess that I didn’t read a lot of the story as it was told, but the visual style did appeal to me, along with the overall steam punk feel to the game.


Under Siege offers a multiplayer mode alongside the single player campaign, which matches two players into a lobby in order to battle on a series of stand alone maps. A ticker tape display on the main menu updates the number of players online, and unfortunately player numbers do seem quite low at the moment. Thankfully there is also support for local multiplayer, and there are a small selection of maps which can be tackled in co-op, either locally or online.

Map Designer

A very interesting addition to the game is the map designer, which is actually the full design engine that was used to produce the levels of the main game. Landscapes can be terraformed with relative ease, and there are a huge range of environmental and man-made features that can be added. Checkpoints, mission goals and enemy types are all definable, and it is even possible to build cut scenes to fit in with the action.

Whilst the designer is initially quite intimidating, it does get easier as you spend some time tinkering, and it provides Under Siege with a great USP. Unfortunately, as it stands, the levels that you create cannot be shared with other players. According to the official Under Siege forums, map sharing will be added in Patch  1.03, but this has not yet received an official release date. It is a real shame that this feature was not available at launch, but its arrival could certainly breathe new life into the game, and may eventually help build a strong sense of community.

In Summary

Under Siege is an accessible take on the RTS genre, that fits the format of a downloadable game well. It is visually appealing, and the controls are a good fit for the PS3, using either the Dualshock or Move control methods. Whilst the game is fun to play, there are some niggling aspects which slightly spoil the party, and the difficulty level is definitely set a notch or two higher than I would have liked. Hopefully some of these niggles will be addressed in upcoming patches, and it will be particularly interesting to see the impact that the introduction of map sharing has on the Under Siege community. If this feature is a success it could seriously extend the lifespan of the game, as the playing community continues to drive it forward.

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