Strolling through Macworld's venerable Game Hall of Fame, I noticed that the spot reserved for the 1997 Arcade winner, Green Dragon Creations' Gridz, was now empty. Perplexed, I questioned a passing docent and was informed that the exhibit featuring this highly entertaining real-time strategy game was being updated to reflect Gridz's new networking capabilities. Flashing the vermilion card issued to all Macworld contributing editors, I was ushered into The Vault to peek at the new and improved Gridz.
At first glance, Gridz 1.2 is little changed from the delightful game that won our heart a year ago (see Reviews, November 1997). It's still happiest with at least 16MB of RAM, and it's still deceptively simple. You stake out territory on a large grid by planting nodes where the grid lines intersect, and then you dispatch Builder robots to activate those nodes. When four nodes that mark the corners of a rectangle are activated, you claim that area of the grid.
While you're engaged in this digital exercise in manifest destiny, your opponents likewise claim territory. The real fun begins when you dispatch Striker and Hacker robots. The Strikers' job is to destroy opposing robots; Hackers live to demolish enemy nodes, which you can then claim. The more territory you grab, the more energy you generate, allowing you to build additional robots more quickly. You can capture token rings and redeem them for more-powerful robots at the end of each round.
The single-player-only Gridz 1.0 was a hoot, but its computer opponents were just a bit dim: it didn't take long to figure out that if you bought the most powerful Striker you could afford, you easily outmatched your computer opponents. The new version addresses the problem in two ways. In single-player games, you can now choose to play against smarter enemies. And, of course, networking brings the greatest challenge of all. Your not-too-bright computer opponents may not realize that the best offense is a good defense, but the weasel in the next cube who refuses to refill the coffeemaker after drinking the last cup surely does.
The Gridz CD-ROM ships with a single serial number, but you can get three additional serial numbers free from Green Dragon's Web site. Gridz supports up to eight players and can be played across an AppleTalk network or on the Web via TCP/IP. I found the game very responsiveand a heck of a lot of fun to playon a four-Mac 10BaseT Ethernet network.
Gridz is a wonderful single-player game for those who enjoy adrenaline-driven, real-time strategy games, and it's even more fun against human opponents. Gridz richly deserved its place in the Macworld Game Hall of Fame. It still does.
RATING: PROS: Furious game play; networkable. CONS: Slightly stiff RAM requirement. COMPANY: Green Dragon Creations (601/473-4225, http://www.greendragon.com ). LIST PRICE: $35.
March 1999 page: 62