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Greep Crop XBLA is a perfectly simple strategy game. It sets itself apart from other 360 downloadable strategy games with its unique interplay between resources and territory, combined with a charming aesthetic. But for all its charms, it is the chilling implication of the story that has stayed with me.
Greed Corp is set in a once idyllic fantasy world that has been torn apart by greed. Ravaged by four corporations, the land has been depleted of all the natural resources it once held. Now fierce competition rages between each faction over the remaining commodities. Perhaps the set up is a little heavy handed in its creation of a capitalist dystopia, but it's the way in which developer W!Games rolls its message in to the game mechanics that makes it affecting.
The interplay between territory and resources created a strange emotion inside me, a sense of resignation to the fate of our own world as well as Greed Corp's.
Greed Corp is a streamlined RTS. Played on a hexagonal grid, the games maps are all set on plateaus high above the clouds. With only one unit type, a few facilities to build and only one resource, it would be possible to come to the mistaken conclusion that the game is simple. Yet Greed Corp's ease to play masks a complexity hidden in the games interaction between raw materials and territory.
It didn't take long for me to realise after starting Greed Corp that mining did not simply deplete the world's resources, it also destroyed the very ground my armies stood upon. To watch as the earth lowers and disappears from beneath my army's feet succeeded in adding tension to every move, but what really chilled me was that it was my own mines doing the majority of the damage. These huge complexes sucked anything of value from the surrounding area, reducing their stability, before they finally cracked and crumbled to nothing, taking with it any forces still standing.
The interplay between territory and resources created a strange emotion inside me, a sense of resignation to the fate of our own world as well as Greed Corp's. As I played the single player mode I took control of a 'peaceful' faction, supposedly forced to fight the other three corporations that were out to take their land for the minerals contained in it soil. Yet despite my own teams supposed love of the earth we were forced to fight using the same tactics as our opponents, ravaging our own lands to survive.
Unless I surrendered my matches I was unable to support my own ecological beliefs.
Even as the games chirpy 1950's music played, and my cute, steam-punk robots bounced around my tiles, I felt dirty. Unless I surrendered my matches I was unable to support my own ecological beliefs. It reminded me of the quote 'People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes' (apparently this was Abigail Van Buren's contribution to my ethics model) and at the end of a round of Greed Corp ashes really are all that's left. My opponent and I would rape the land, taking the uncontested green areas for our own war machine, mining from them what was useful and watching them fall. It didn't matter what we were fighting for because in the end there were only a few charred remains of the lush land we started on to claim as our prize.
At a superficial glance Greed Corp offers an attractive and upbeat game. Its simple controls and mechanics mean it's friendly for new comers to the RTS genre, but the balancing act of territory and resources ensure that the challenge level ramps up quickly. When I was able to remove the game from its message I really enjoyed the strategy involved, but it was a separation I struggled to make. As the game world grew dark and the lands became ever more devastated in the wake of my armies, I found myself constantly reminded of the allegory it draws with our own wars and greed, and I realise that maybe there is no 'good' solution for either.
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