All of the recognizable elements of a strategy game are present in Greed Corp: you build structures, train units, and farm resources while viewing the action from an overhead perspective. As a proof of concept, or maybe to encourage online multiplayer, Greed Corp has taken the genre simplification to a quick-fire extreme.
Greed Corp gives you three types of structures and one unit type. Instead of being decided by a dice roll, combat is based around numbers: two beats one and three beats two. Every move plays a significant role in the outcome of the game, but since a 60 second limit is imposed on each turn, there’s clearly no time for beard-stroking. This doesn’t leave the player with a lot of breathing room when trying to fight a war on three fronts, and ends up being comically short on some of the more fragmented maps.
The arenas are formed out of impossibly tall rock columns elevating the battles into the clouds. Extracting currency from the ground causes it to crumble and eventually tumble into the abyss below, taking units and structures with it. Opposing teams will soon consume the map itself in a rather bleak, destructive display of greed, often leaving the victor on a solitary, single tile of land asking themselves if it was worth it. Other strategy games have hinted at the risk of abusing resources, but Greed Corp uses this message as its central theme and gives it an unavoidable tactical role. Tough choices about what to harvest, who to sabotage, and where to make your stand present themselves at every single turn.
Long game lengths and waiting times have stopped most turn based strategy titles from taking off online – something Greed Corp tries to address. The 60 second turn limits and rapidly diminishing maps really force the issue and make sure games are concluded in about 20 minutes. Boot up an Xbox Live match (or get three players on one console) to enter a crowded four way free-for-all, where options are so limited that it matches the tension of a poker game. Predicting what will be left of the map and capitalizing on conflicts between opponents appear to be the smart tactics, but making the first move–even if successful–can leave you open to attack from a crafty third party.
Each of the four playable factions has its own recognizable visual style and color, as its very easy to see who is in control of each area on the board. Graphics are vibrant and functional, with deliberately swift movement animations that are well designed and streamline the experience nicely.
The single player campaign of Greed Corp is a fun distraction that introduces you to all of its nuances, though the computer AI lacks the killer instinct and unpredictability of human players. Greed Corp triumphs in using an original mechanic to help trim the fat and create a fast-paced multiplayer strategy game that can only end in a gloriously bleak victory.