This game is pretty good, definitely a step up from the old Land Air Sea Warfare game.
I actually started playing LASW when it was first released for IOS. I actually helped James at Isotope 244 with some ideas for the game on Facebook. If I remember correctly, 3 or 4 people pitched ideas on the Isotope 244 Facebook page. My suggestion was a nuclear power plant mega unit that blows up when destroyed. Good call not including that James, it was a bad idea.
Compared with LASW I feel like Machines at War 3 is just a big update. Graphics are the same, units are a tiny bit different, and the AI is a little more aggressive but no necessarily better. However, Machines at War is a game in its own, so I'll treat it as a new game for this review.
Graphics / Gameplay: 2D icon type graphics with some cool particle effects and decent physics. The graphics work well for the RTS genre, but the grid system is where the game really shines. Being able to zoom out and look at the map in the form of a giant graph is mad cool. It makes me feel like I'm some cold war commander controlling robots from a underground bunker somewhere.
I also love the stats that pop up at the end of the battles. Its super cool being able to break down your strategy into the raw stats and numbers.
Music: The soundtrack is OK / Bad. The real problem is trying to play your own music instead. I'll cover this later
AI: The AI is a huge part of any RTS, and this one does pretty good.
Back in LASW the AI had OK strategy and terrible tactics. In Machines at War 3 the AI has become very aggressive strategically, but not much smarter tactically.
Strategy: The AI knows that the key to success is mega units and Ore. So it conducts search and destroy missions for the special resources from the start of the game. Once it has the resources, the AI is able to out produce you, and overwhelm you with massive amounts of building, units, and mega units.
If you don't get a leg up on the AI by getting some special resources in the early game, you're on the defensive for the rest of the game for sure.
Tactics: The AI is still lacking a bit on the tactics side. The AI tries to overwhelm you with massive amounts of units, and it really isn't that effective against a human player who can set up decent defenses. One thing that I noticed was that the AI only attacks with one kind of unit at a time. The AI will launch an air attack, and then a land attack, and then a sea attack, waiting in-between to rebuild more units.
A human player easily defeats the AI in tactics because we know that you're supposed to attack with air, sea, and land at the same time. No point in sending in tanks if a helicopter will destroy them. No point in sending helicopter if a fighter will shoot it down. No point in sending a helicopter, tank, or fighter if a gunboat or submarine is covering the river. The AI does not understand this, and sends units into areas where they cannot help or get slaughtered.
In addition, I just have to mention how horrible the AI is with building facilities. Why the hell would you rebuild your mother base next to mine? How does it make sense to build a factory within shooting distance of my factory? The AI is just too aggressive with building factories and buildings, and it ends up just being a waste of resources that the AI hoards.
Other: I have to mention that this game has troubles on Mac. You cannot go into big picture mode while this game is running. You have to save and quit if you want to do ANYTHING ELSE while the game is running. Want to play music through iTunes? Better not want to change a song, you have to save and quit. Why is this still a thing Isotope 244?
Rating: Overall, I think Machines at War 3 is pretty good. I don't think it is worth $14.99 though. I would suggest this game to my friends, and I think that its great that Isotope 244 still makes RTS games even after they have fallen out of style all over the Mac / PC space. In addition, it is great to support an indie dev.
I'm also really glad this game was released on steam. No offense James, but your website made me afraid to buy your game for a long time.