Review by MarcusOfLycea

"A Timeless Game"

Overview: This game is what got me started in playing Real Time Strategy games myself. As such, I have always loved and respected this game. At one point, I owned the Gold Edition, but even after losing the CD, I can still play the downloaded demo of it and have as much fun as before.

Gameplay: This game completely won me over from the moment I started playing it. In a typical randomly generated game, you control a small tribe and must bring them to power and conquer your neighbors. This requires a bit of strategy, as you often have to trade upgrading your technology with a defense or resource gathering. The game is divided into four ages, like Age of Empires 2. You start in the stone age, with primitive technology and one military unit (a club-weilding warrior). You can bring your civilization through the ages for increasingly high amounts of resources as you get closer to the last age of the game. The level design in the campaigns is good enough to play over and over in order to develop new strategies, but with a Random Map feature, you'll probably just play them once. The civilizations seem pretty balanced, and there is some strategy in military operations, but one of the things I have noticed that is of great importance is finding and securing resources. While wood is usually abundant and food can be grown from farms built with wood, stone and gold are much more difficult to find. Most high end units require gold, so if you aren't planning ahead, your enemies will wipe you off the earth with War Elephants or Legionaires while you attack them with your Axemen. Stone is only important for defense, but you'll need it to defend outposts where you gather more gold and stone. All of this builds up into a complex and engaging game where you have a lot of options as a player.

Graphics: For the time, this game looked great. I compare it with fairly contemporary games like Warcraft 2, and it stands out as being the best looking. The various terrains are all well made and the units themselves, although just sprites, look realistic enough to be convicing. As you go through the four time periods of the game, your structures change in appearance as well, reflecting the passage of time and your culture. Although it is an aesthetic feature, it helps the game be a little more diverse and entertaining.

Sound: I really wish sound had been done a bit better. Every civilization has the same speech, and you can't really make out what people are saying. The music is good and fitting for the game however.

Story: The campaigns each have stories to them, but its really not a big part of the game. Your main focus will be on the mission objectives, and not the reason behind them.

Summary: This game is generally rated lower than it should be in my opinion. At the time, people were expecting Warcraft combined with Civilization. However, I went into playing this game with no expectations, and was very pleased with it. Its old and at times you can tell. Overall this game is well worth getting, especially since it probably goes for under $10 now. If you've never played it before, you owe it to yourself.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/15/07

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