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Greed Corp

Hands-On: The new Pixel Junk?

If it weren't for Xbox Live Arcade, PSN and PC, games like Greed Corp would almost certainly be long dead - and that's why we aim our peachiest of blessings at the game download services.

One genre that's enjoyed something of a resurrection through these digital conduits is the strategy board game.

You can understand why 'boardgames on a budget' work. As nerdy as they are - we're talking your Carcassonnes, Risks and Panzer Generals - they are bloody good fun. They're just not £40's worth of fun, you know?

Greed Corp, from the makers of erm, My Horse and Me (don't let that faze you - these guys clearly have more to offer) is the latest genre entry you should look forward to arriving in your favourite digital shop.

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It's a bit like Advance Wars meets Chess; up to four players competing across a hexagonal playing field, building bases, pumping out units for battle and harvesting resources.

However, as players plant their minors, the playing field itself - specifically the surrounding hexagons - descends further downwards, before eventually crumbling away entirely. In order to succeed you need to be willing to risk it all - in the hope of being the last man on solid ground.

Gameplay works in turns; you can move your units - called walkers - a number of hexagons per go, or use the money you've amassed to plant harvesters, turrets or unit-builders.

Combat works similarly to the aforementioned Nintendo strategy effort; whoever has the largest number of walkers on the contested tile (units can be massed together, again like AW) will survive the fight.

Games last longer depending on the amount of players (but never more than an hour) and are both strategic and good fun.

HEX APPEAL
Once harvesters are placed on a tile they'll lower all immediate hexagons once per round (with four drops spelling goodbye).

This adds tons of strategy: Not only do you have to ensure that your base buildings and units aren't too close to your harvesters (otherwise they'll eventually crumble away with the land) but critical tiles - those with only one drop left - are chained up and destroyed by any connected crumbling tiles.

So for example, if a line of critical tiles leads from your harvester to an enemy unit or construct, you can use the harvester's self-destruct feature to cause a crumbling combo of death that'll take the entire line of tiles out.

Inevitably this kind of cliff-crashing madness leads to either you or the other player left with one singular, pillar of land and your last unit perched atop it.

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From here you can spend your cash on carriers (which can move an infinite number of hexagons per turn) or an artillery cannon to blast their island into dust.

In our short session we found Greed Corp to be a fun and visually appealing strategy game, as the video on this page will no doubt suggest. Online battles are sure to take off and developer W! Games has catered well here.

NEED FOR GREED
Through multiplayer battles, players can unlock titles very much like those in Modern Warfare 2, including 'explorer', 'major' and 'hero'. And if that doesn't keep your attention there's also a meaty single-player game with 24 levels promised - 6 on each faction.

W! has bold plans for the franchise and universe of the board game, with a Pixel Junk-style plan for additional games in different genres.

A top-down shooter and role-playing game are already in production, and from what we've seen it's certainly fleshed out a rich world with civil wars, Miyazaki-style art and an abundance of character. Perhaps - just maybe - it'll make a series horse-riding game as well (ho ho!)

Greed Corps is out early this year on XBLA, PSN and PC for 800 Microsoft Points and the cash equivalent (about £6.80).

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