NetStorm: Islands At War (1997)

by Christopher
6 minutes read


This article provides an in-depth look at NetStorm: Islands At War, highlighting its innovative gameplay, strategic challenges, and the enduring appeal of its unique setting among strategy game enthusiasts.


An exploration of NetStorm: Islands At War, a 1997 real-time strategy game set in a world of floating islands, known for its unique gameplay and strategic depth.


NetStorm: Islands At War, developed by Titanic Entertainment and published by Activision in 1997, is a real-time strategy game designed primarily for online play. The game is set in the world of Nimbus, a planet whose crust has been sent floating off into the atmosphere due to the never-ending battles between the four god-like beings called “The Furies”, representing Sun, Wind, Rain, and Thunder.

The inhabitants of Nimbus now live on small floating islands, each with its own high priest, their only link to their patron Fury. The islands are in constant battle with each other, aiming to capture and sacrifice the priests of their enemies to their own Fury, thereby gaining knowledge and power.

The gameplay of NetStorm is unique and differs from other real-time strategy games. The battle area consists of a number of islands, each one controlled by an individual player. Each player has a priest unit which the enemy must capture and sacrifice using their own priest. Players’ resources are increased by collecting power in the form of “storm crystals”, which can be used to build new units.

The player starts the game with a limited number of units available; upon sacrificing an enemy priest, the player gains knowledge of new more powerful units for use in future battles. There are several classes of units, including offensive units, defensive units, and transport units. Only transport units can move; they are mainly used to collect the storm crystal from the “storm geysers” that appear randomly around the map.

Both the offensive and defensive units are static, in that once placed, they cannot be moved. Each offensive unit has an area or line of fire in which it can attack and destroy enemy units. Defensive units serve to provide cover to other offensive units while they make their attack. Bridges are a key part of the game and are used to advance your position and gain access to other areas of the battlefield.

Units can be constructed at the terminal points of the bridges, and further bridges can then be built from the placed unit. The ultimate objective is to use offensive units to immobilize the enemy priests by damaging them. After this, they can be captured by a transport unit and taken to a sacrificial altar, where they are sacrificed in exchange for knowledge of more powerful units.

The game ends when all enemy priests are killed or players declare a draw. Throughout the game, players are free to choose to ally with other players for mutual benefit, in which case a co-operative victory is possible.


The game features various units and structures that players can deploy, each with its unique abilities and roles in battle. The focus is on the strategic use of these elements rather than on individual characters.


Players engage in real-time battles, building bridges to expand their territory and deploying a variety of units to capture resources and defeat opponents. Strategic positioning and resource management are key to success.


NetStorm: Islands At War remains a distinctive entry in the real-time strategy genre, offering a unique blend of strategy, resource management, and tactical combat set in a captivating world of floating islands.

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