Grey goo is a term coined by Eric Drexler in the late 1980s to describe an ecophagy where macroscopic nano machines (so called Von Neuman machines) self replicate to consume all matter on earth. Grey Goo is a real time strategy game loosely based on these nano machines, initially used as space probes by human kind far into the future. First thought decommissioned, these self replicating nanobots have gained consciousness, absorbing everything in their path to create new units. The game takes place on Planet Falkannan, in the Crux Arm, where the remainder of the once mighty space faring Beta, battle the drones of the mysterious “Silent Ones”.
Playability: Polished strategy with a few twists
Grey Goo offers three factions with a variety of units, buildings and technologies. The Beta (or Mora), the Humans and the Goo each have strengths and weaknesses. A fourth faction, the Silent Ones or Shroud was introduced as downloadable content. The basic extract resources, research technologies, build units and attack enemies are common to the humanoid Beta and the humans. But the Goo can just merrily absorb their enemies and move around geographical features, making them a slippery contender. Pockets of goo lurking around the map will usually take ages to clean out, and may eventually regroup to the irritation of their opponents.
Annoyance: Connect the buildings
The campaign has a total of five stories per faction, but that includes tutorials to get acquainted with the basics of each race. You’ll get access to the full might of each faction by the fifth and final mission, which is a little on the short side, even for RTS starved gamers. While the Goo have a distinct advantage of the free roaming hunter gatherer turned wandering industrialist, Beta and human structures need to be connected to the relevant modules. For example, connect an air module to a factory to produce flyers. The problem is that terrain and space constraints quickly put a dampener on urban planning virtuosity.
Beauty: Superb cinematics
Grey Goo boasts superb cutscenes and acting (both virtual and voiced). The Beta sound like they are either from South Africa or are speaking their vernacular tongue. Close up facial expressions are lifelike and there’s none of the usual wooden contrived animations found on even the bigger budget titles. Unfortunately, the campaign ends on a cliffhanger. This provides barely enough time for main character development. It’s not as bad as waiting for the next tome of Game of Thrones, but still… As you amass larger and larger hordes of drones, sentinels, flyers, extractors, tanks and so on, the frame rate may eventually drop but Grey Goo usually does a good job to stay above the mayhem even on slightly older rigs.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Almost classic real time strategy 7/10
In the current drought of real time strategy games, Grey Goo attempts to hark back to the glorious days of Command and Conquer, and for the most part successfully fulfils the old video gamer’s longing for collecting resources, building huge armies, researching complex technology trees and smashing enemies to smithereens. The need for connecting buildings and structures unnecessarily stifle SimCity style creativity, and coupled with prerequisites for building various units, make the extract, build, swamp routine unnecessarily cumbersome. Despite these shortcomings, Grey Goo is an almost classic RTS with polished finishing school touches.