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Genre: Quiz/Puzzle/Strategy :: Players: 2 ::

Ancient Empires Review

Developer: Macrospace

Pros

Game Features

Rating/100

Addictive gameplay which you can save at any time!
Superb graphics and sound
Lots of creatures and strategy involved

Cons

AI turn takes a little while when they have a lot of units

Sound
Vibration
Help
Save Option
Suspend/Resume
Network
See Compatible Handsets

98

Graphics

98

Sound

98

Controls

99

Playability

99

Lastability

96

Review Details
Handset Sharp GX20

Anannya Sen ’s Review

Review Date: 23/1/05

A superb strategy battle game based on classics like Dune and Command and Conquer. The game is so good with so many options and features that the review is fairly detailed. Phone games don??t get much better than this. Check out the hints for more detail on strategy and creatures.


I am a God of God games. I conquered Megalomania, eased through Dune and spent ages on Command and Conquer. So it was with baited breath that I played the Bafta nominated Ancient Empires from Macrospace. And I have to tell you that the game doesn??t disappoint. It??s so good that I spent the entire weekend playing it, while I was on the train, in a nightclub and at a the cinema. I also managed to annoy anyone I was with by doing this.

The game is based on the classic mould of God games. You are a King and have to take on your evil brother who has been possessed. You build up your army made up of soldiers, Lizardmen, catapults, giant spider, wizards and wyverns and go and attack him! Check out the hints section for my tips on strategy and more descriptions of the units available and their uses.

The graphics are outstanding. The screen on my phone is not that large but they are very cutesy and look extremely similar to the Zelda graphics on the SNES. All the different creatures are easily recognisable and the terrain is nice to see. The menu is simple and all the information you need is easy to obtain. The small pics of the messages and plot that you get have very well drawn faces. The movement and battle animation is also excellent.

For all the developers out there who want to know what the best way of putting sound in a game is, use this as your example. The sound is great. There is a standard tune which (again is very Zelda like) is nicely composed and plays on the menu and also in game. Yes, finally a decent tune which plays in game. In addition there are a host of sound effects when you are fighting, moving, dying and occupying buildings. These may not be more than a tone sometimes, but it is enough to give the game some real atmosphere. The game also vibrates during the battle scenes. I couldn??t ask for more.

The controls are very simple to pick up. Use the main button or 5 to select a unit and then move them to where you want them to go and press the button again. Use the directional or key pad to move. A movement path appears showing where your unit goes with a sword showing the end square you are moving to. In addition, when you are on a character, 7 will give you details about that character and 0 will show their movement range. For catapults and archers, 0 will also show their attack range. When you are fighting, select your unit and then you will get options of which surrounding units you can attack. Move the crossed swords to whichever unit you want to attack and press the button again. When your white selection square is not on a unit, the left shoulder button will bring up a menu. From here you can go to the main menu (and save your progress), view a map and see your objective. Lastly, when your King is in the castle, you can either move him or buy troops. When you buy troops the troops available come up on a separate screen. Very simple.

The gameplay is fantastic. I love these sorts of strategy fighting games so I was hooked from the start. The basic objectives are the same, you have to defeat your evil brothers troops with troops of your own. There is one mission where you have to protect a Lizard King but that??s it, carnage all the way. You start off in one corner of the map and your enemy in the other. Income is earned from occupying buildings. Only soldiers can occupy buildings. There are 9 different types of unit you can buy, as well as the king, and they all have very very different attributes. As you progress further in the game, you can buy more types of troops making it very enjoyable. There are three stats per troop, attack, defense and movement. In addition certain units perform better against others (wisps are better at killing the undead, archers are good at killing wyverns and wyverns are good at killing everything). Another big feature of the battles is the terrain. This is hugely important in deciding who is going to win. Different terrain adds defensive points to your units in battles, with mountainous and forest type terrain increasing your defensive ability but decreasing your movement ability. Buildings are also well fortified and if you are on a building (whether you occupy it or not) then your defense will be increased. When you occupy buildings, you can move units there to recover their health, so all is not lost. I think that this is the most fun I??ve had playing a game. There is a hell of a lot of depth to it and the units are all different enough to be interesting and useful. There is also lots of information like when you are moving your units, the ones you have finished moving have an E underneath. Terrain stats can be viewed as you go over them and you can even fight on water. A big addition to the strategy element is the use of the main character, the King. Usually the King should just stay in the tower (as you have to protect him and defeat his brother) and purchase troops. However, the King is a unit and can be moved and can fight! The King is quite powerful in attack and defense, but when faced with heavy attacks should be retreated as otherwise it??s game over. The missions may not vary that much, but it??s just too much fun to play and very intuitive (see the hints section).

The lastability is also excellent. There is a story mode which contains 7 levels. After you have completed each level, you can play it at any time in the select level option. Also you can save your progress at any time which is amazing. There is only one save slot though so you can??t save different games at multiple points. In addition to this, even though there is no difficulty level, the game is pitched just right to be very challenging and interesting. The levels can be quite tricky depending on what strategy you adopt and how quickly you build up troops, I got a bit wayward on one level, but stuck it out and managed to complete if after several hours of intense building and battling. There are detailed instructions telling you all you need to know about the game and you can also connect to the network. The suspend and resume feature is there and finally, as if all that weren??t enough you can play 2 player!! That??s right, there is a skirmish option where you can play either one or two player and over two set courses! This is great if you just want to have a battle and build up some troops. There are lots of settings options which can increase or cut down the game time such as music, sound, vibration, the help feature and fight animation.

In fact the only gripe that I have with this game is that you always have to watch the AI move (presumably so you can tell where they are and which of your units they are attacking). While this makes perfect sense and there is no other feasible way of doing it, when the AI has several units, this takes a while to view (by while I mean maybe a minute). However, you do get a sense of satisfaction when you have reduced the opposing army to nothing and the AI turn is to make no move at all!

Stunning game which is well deserved of the Bafta nomination!