Retake Earth from nasty aliens

Combine elements of strategy, resource management, and action in deep space, shake, and you get Ares.

Ares is a graphical strategy and action game that takes place in the far reaches of the galaxy. Your mission is to reclaim the planet Earth from alien invaders, but to do that you have to handle manufacturing and resources, as well as be handy with your trigger finger to blow the enemy to little pieces. You can try Ares for free, but the full game will set you back $25.

The Ares interface is laid out with controls and status reports in a pane to the left, and the graphics in a much larger pane to the right. A few health, energy, and battery indicator strips are on the far right. The graphics are a bit clunky, but you overlook that once you get into the game. Ares has three tutorial levels that help you learn the game interface and mechanics. Once you work your way through these, you're ready for the game itself. You start with simple patrols, fighting off attackers, work your way up to larger set pieces where you have to sacrifice a few good ships for the greater good, and end up with planetary invasions where you need to seize and hold strategic locations to win. There are twenty missions total in the single-player version, or you can go head-to-head in multiplayer. For those who want to extend their time with Ares, there's a scenario editor.

Ares will appeal to both the strategy and action gamer, but this mix of the two means both aspects are OK but not great. Also, the graphics are a bit of a letdown and could use a reworking. Having said that, the gameplay is interesting and many gamers will get hooked quickly.

Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Ares 1.2.

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