Fantasy Empires. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida
I sat down to evaluate SSI's Fantasy Empires, a Dungeons & Dragons-style game of territorial expansion and medieval combat, and was kidnapped by a villain and taken to the wee hours of the morning. At least, that's the only way I can figure that it went from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. so quickly.
Fantasy Empires is that addicting. More like the board game Risk than D&D, Fantasy Empires pits you against one to four opponents (human or computer) in your quest to unite the 98 kingdoms of Mystara.
Your empire starts small, with just one kingdom, and expands with your capture of neighboring territories. The more territories you acquire, the more revenue you generate. More money means more troops, which in turn help you gain even more territories.
Money also buys temples for clerics and magic users, castle fortifications, and troop-building armories, among other things. The troops themselves are standard D&D fare: fighters, elves, dwarves, orcs, and so on. Elite troops, called heroes, may be sent on quests to unearth magical goods.
At some point during your expansion, you'll bump into an opponent (or vice versa), and that's when the fun begins. In combat you can let the computer simulate the melee, or you can storm the battlefield for some hand-to-hand hacking and slashing. The latter, while fun, can be frustrating. You control one of your warriors; the rest of your crew carries out predetermined attack orders. When your warrior confronts a foe, you can do little more than hold the joystick button while the two hack at each other. These simple and often lengthy encounters detract from an otherwise exciting arcade sequence.
Overseeing the map-based portion of the game is the dungeon master himself, who resides at the top of the screen and mediates gameplay. He also provides verbal guidance when you falter and even takes a snooze if you wait too long to make a move.
Aside from that bit of levity, Fantasy Empires is a serious game of strategy and arcade action, one you won't win in one sitting. Great graphics, sound, and gameplay make Fantasy Empires an addicting winner.