One of Origin Systems earlier releases, Omega is a tank strategy game with a twist. The game plot puts you in the boots of an operative for the military weapons development company OSI with the task of developing a cybertank from the ground up. The process of tank development is divided into two stages- hardware development in which your allocated budget is spent on hardware features, and software development, which involves producing a computer directive using the in-game software language CCL. Upon completion and authorization of a tank design, all work is then tested in simulations- if tank operation meets the necessary criteria for the tests, then the player is rewarded with a higher level of security clearance, a better budget, and the chance to design a new tank.
This process continues until the player reaches Omega clearance, and is given an unlimited budget to do with as he wishes.
Omega is not a pick-up-and-play style game- it requires a serious commitment into understanding the ins and outs of the game engine and CCL, which is a surprisingly sophisticated higher-level programming language very similar to BASIC. A thorough read of the several game operation manuals is essential to understand how the program works- well over 300 pages of information! The player must use programming skills to overcome issues such as obstacle aversion, enemy attack methods and system status reports, always keeping in mind the choices made in the hardware development phase of the game. From this perspective Omega can hardly
be called a game much less than a programming exercise- no doubt there is fun to be had here but for the average gamer this may be too advanced and almost defiantly too foreign to be of even passing appeal.
Having said that, aspiring programmers and gamers who love a good challenge will revel in the options provided by Omega. I found after my initial struggles that overcoming programming problems and developing AI strategies was a thoroughly rewarding experience. The game supports a very disjointed multi-player in which your tank designs can be pitted against those of your friends in a simulation; if you have friends who are willing learn how to play then Omega can be a real test of wits. But as impressive as it is, Omega doesn't *feel* like a game; it feels too much like year 10 computing homework to be worth the attention of most gamers. Lovers of a good tank combat simulation are probably better off with a game like Firepower, but gamers who enjoyed Hacker II, or Robosport and are prepared to operate in a higher degree of sophistication will find Omega to be an extremely rewarding experience.