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Whip Select (TM) Whiplash

April 27th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Creative Assembly, RTS

I’ve been struggling with my review of Sega’s Storm Rise, and mostly because I’ve been struggling with the interface. Developed by Creative Assembly’s junior studio in Australia, the selection mechanism is a registered trademark – Whip Select (TM) – and it’s a bit of a lie since most of the time you cannot whip, and if you do, there is no guarantee that you will select what you want.

Unit selection boils down to this: you use one of you Xbox 360 joysticks to point in the direction of the unit you want. Once it is highlighted, you let go and *poof* there you are with your new unit.

It doesn’t work very well because the main combat view is a 3D third person grunt level view of the world and once you have more than two or three units in a general area, selecting the one you want out of that lot requires more attention than it does whipping. The tactical display isn’t very good for much of anything, and I keep getting stuck in very early missions.

What’s really peculiar is that this selection mechanism looked so easy when they showed it at last year’s E3. But looking back, it’s become even more apparent just how controlled that demo was. It was intended to show off different units and how you could use crossfire to your advantage and all that neat tactical stuff, but now, having spent time with the controls, I am reminded about how spread out many of the units being controlled were, how the demonstrators kept them separated for the most part. You don’t always have the luxury of doing this in battle, though, so I inevitable grab the wrong guy or march him too far ahead.

I may not get very far in Storm Rise, but that in itself is a review of a sort. This is a disaster on just about every level. A real review will be coming up shortly.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • spelk

    Its interesting to hear someone else’s experience with Whip Select(tm). It does work exceptionally well with very small amounts of units. Its when the unit count goes up, that you get icons on the periphery overlapping, and if you’re selecting others from a moving unit, the icons on the periphery are actually moving aswell, so it becomes a games of skill in itself.

    A lot of reviews have focussed on the fickle behaviour of the Whip Select system, and it is a fair point, its a novel idea that doesn’t quite live up to the RTS scenarios its presented. Endwar does such a better/simpler job at unit selection. However the game itself has a number of key problems that are inherent upon release. There is no forced attack command, units have to be placed into a position, and then stopped, before they will engage enemy units. There are animation problems, so some units will drop dead, without much in the way of indication of enemy fire, simply because their animations did not fire off. There is poor pathing of some of the units meant to traverse the ‘verticality’ that is the real unique selling point of Stormrise. And the final insult is that some of the special abilities of some of the units, just don’t fire off on command reliably. And in a tense, real time, unit Point of View RTS, you really need unit reliability to make your command decisions work.

    Theres a whole bucketload of potential in Stormrise, but its rushed early release has seriously affected its chances at widespread exposure. Most reviews get stuck at the Whip Select, or see the glaring bugs/glitches and baulk at the game.

    Spending time at the Stormrisers.com community, shows there are a lot of players out there that a) understand the appeal of SR, but also are willing to forgive the blatant bugs in the game. Apparently there is a patch 2, coming out as soon as SEGA approves its release, and I hope it fixes the major issues present, so that the game can at least function more or less to the original design..

  • spelk

    I should add, that the game has one or two tutorial missions that explain the mechanisms and to some degree the problems with the game don’t manifest themselves until you find yourself on the dreaded mission 3.

    There is a beginners guide on Stormrisers.com that may help you accomodate to Stormrise and its “unique” features… heres the link..


  • Troy

    Thanks, Spelk. Mission 2 was a real pain in the ass, Mission 3 is just downright evil.

    You are right to note all the other issues, which I left aside for this post. Considering how hard it is to keep track of your troops, the decision to require soldiers to stop before they could fight is lunacy.

    The existence of a community based around this game is a total surprise and either a sign of humankind’s forgiving nature or a plot to make it impossible for designers to predict what gamers actually enjoy.

  • James Allen

    Is there any decent RTS in console-land? Ah, who cares, I’m having too much fun with Demigod.

  • spelk

    News just in this morning, looks bad for Stormrise… apparently they’ve cancelled the much needed Patch 2. The patch has been readied, but to test it for distribution has proved too costly, and it looks like SEGA and CA have just cut future support to the game. Which is very saddening, if you’d managed to taste the faint hint of a decent RTS on the console, that attempts to do something different.


    Back to Endwar, I guess, for the console boys.