This title is impressive on a number of levels. First, in and of itself, it is one of the most ambitious console releases of all time. Second, Sony's willingness to import and localize a title that will likely have only limited appeal shows an impressive dedication to making the PlayStation library the most diverse and deep available
The game's concept is fairly simple. An evil mega-corp has taken control of the moons of Jupiter, to exploit their natural resources. You, as the representitive of a descent organization of the United Nations, must defeat the Drakken Corp in military conflict.
This is where things start to get complex. To fight on the surface of the Jovian moons, you don'y use soldiers, you use Overkill Engines (OKEs) -- giant 'mech-like creatures. First you build your OKE, outfitting it with parts and munitions uspplied by a variety of competing firms on earth. Then it's time for battle. Do you control the OKEs directly? No, not at all. Instead, you write a computer program that provides the OKEs with artificial intelligence. When your OKEs meet the enemy's in battle, the OKEs with the programs win.
When you go to build your OKE, you go to suppliers for the parts. You can also fund R&D on new parts, pay to optimize designs and more.
Once you design and test your OKE, you need to actually build them in factories on your base. Once built, you send them out in patrol units of 3, either setting them up on defensive maneuvers or sending them to attack the enemy's bases. Again, when they meet enemy units in combat, its their programming, not your hand-to-eye coordination, that decides the fate of the battle.
In the end, the game combines resource management, strategic and tactical unit and battle management as well as programming skill. Don't worry if you don't program now, though, because it's pretty easy to learn, especially with the included strategy guide. The trick is to think through what you want the OKE to do, and in what order, first, and then start to program. For instance, one of our most successful designs first checks to see if anyone is shooting really close (and then it ducks), then gets out of the way of obstacles, locates the enemy, makes sure a friendly unit isn't in the line of fire, and shoots. Following that there are some movement sequences. The trick is to make your OKE avoid obstacles (and enemy bullets) well, and not to act too predictably. Use the random function often!
I've probably spent more time with Carnage Heart than any other PSX game yet (with the possible exception of Jet Moto). The game challenges your mind better than any other console title I've seen, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Fantastic.