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Under Siege Hands On got invited by Seed Studios for preview of upcoming PSN title Under Siege, a RTS available only on PS3 via the PS Store and is scheduled for release before Christmas this year. What makes Under Siege different from other RTS games is that it has been designed for the casual as well as the hardcore gamer. This is through some interesting design decisions and implementation of the Move controller as well as its plot.

Under Siege is a RTS that focuses on a band of characters (there is an accompanying comic detailing their story) rather than whole armies in fact its more like an adventure game seen from the sky. There is no resource collecting and after you start the mission there are no changes to your units until you finish the mission. You earn coins during missions that can be used to level up and buy new units at the start of each mission during the preparation phase. It makes it that much easier to drop in and play with minimal downtime starting up a match, you simply select what you want and then proceed through the mission. There is a sense of progression throughout the game not just provided by the ongoing story but also by your characters carrying over XP from each mission so there is a real sense of loss when one of your high level soldiers dies. Each type of soldier also has their own special ability such as Soldiers taunting to distract the enemy from your weaker troops or Archers who can heal.

The controls make the most of the Dual Shock with holding down X creating a larger circle until you release so you can decide how many troops to select (a neat feature seen before in Xbox’s Halo Wars). The dual sticks are made the most of with the left used to move the cursor about and the right to rotate the screen, d-pad shortcuts can also be assigned to specific troops for quick selection of certain units – having these customisable really helps you to feel in control.

Move was implemented into Under Siege from its creation with Sony offering Seed a prototype after its unveiling at E3 in 2009, it works in the same fashion as a mouse. Using the Move as a cursor you can quickly move across the screen and when the cursor hits the edge of the screen it moves across the map while twisting the controller rotates the viewing angle. Its intuitive but i found it too fiddly to be a better choice than the Dual Shock which i had more confidence in for when i needed to make quick movements in the heat of battle. I think this may be down to personal preference though as I have yet to try a game that offers both joypad and motion control where I have preferred to not use a pad.

Under Siege also supports multiplayer, as is the norm, via online and splitscreen as well as playing other user’s created maps – more on that later. There are a variety of multiplayer modes from Capture the Flag to Deathmatch, Survival plus more yet to be announced. Coop modes are also available and all multiplayer types support up to 4 people in all variations so you could even make a game of 3v1 or all 4 against A.I. Unfortunately I was unable to try out multiplayer as it wasn’t available at the event but I was assured it was fully functioning and could see it working well.

I did however get to try the creator mode which was probably the most promising aspect of Under Siege that was shown. Much like LittleBigPlanet all the levels in the campaign mode were made using the same tools as the creation mode allowing budding designers to create levels of equal if not higher quality. Whole new game modes, stories with cut scenes and full campaigns with sequential levels can be created. As US uses the same deferred rendering engine as Killzone resulting in fantastic lighting effects that can add real character to a level.

It’s a very online orientated game similar to LittleBigPlanet or GT5 with online menus displaying what your friends are up to and keeping you informed all the time. It’s also one of the few download only titles to feature a Platinum trophy, Filipe Pina Producer of Under Siege, assured me there would be no impossible trophies and that hunting them all down shouldn’t prove to be a chore.  Technically its impressive running at 1080p with only some slight v-sync issues, the aforementioned deferred rendering engine helps the game look great and there is considerable detail despite the wide top-down view.

Under Siege will be released  on PSN only before Xmas priced $19.99/14.99€ /£11.99, look out for our review soon to see if Under Siege can deliver on the promising battle plans they have laid down.