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Str: War! Age of Imperialism [by Donohoe Digital LLC]

Game Review:  War! Age of Imperialism
Release: October 2003
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Donohoe Digital
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium 500+, 128 Mb RAM
Players: 1-8
Price: $24.99

The strategy genre, well, itís close to be solely dominated by the PC gaming market. I mean, you donít see the likes of the Civilization series populating the current generation of consoles, and previous attempts at porting said title have proved to be close to worthless. Obviously the mouse and keyboard based nature of these titles, and the difficulty in transferring these kind of controls to a console joy pad hinder the process.

War! Age of Imperialism is Donohoe Digital's attempt at bringing the board game version of the same name to our PCís. The simple requirements to ďwinĒ each game you play differ according to the options you choose before you play. You can go for true domination, crushing your enemies into the ground and conquering as much of the known world as possible; or you can go the diplomatic route and attempt to bring the settlers currently populating the surrounding areas around to your way of thinking and obtain the controlling interest. Just like the Civilization series, a combination of brute force, and diplomacy might be required in order to gain victory.

A strategy titleís subtle novelties are the main drawing point to repeated play. While spending all your wealth on your ever expanding troops may seem like a perfect idea for world domination, this can all come at the cost of technological progress. And if you find yourself a step behind your opponents, their far more advanced units can destroy your large but pitifully developed army with great ease. The balance required differs from game to game, and itís what will keep you coming back time and time again.

The two most intriguing factors of War! are the multiplayer aspect and the fantastic quality of the computer controlled opponents. The sheer wealth of time that Donohoe spent on honing the computer controlled opponents is a joy to behold. There will be very few times youíll witness stupid decision, or comical errors which turn the tide in your favor. But there is an element of human-style error involved, which makes the game all the more fascinating. You donít get a true feel for War though, until you take it online where you can take on up to 8 of your friends (who must also own the game). The game play precedes in much the same manner as the offline standard. But what if youíre halfway through a game and one person goes offline? Well, if that happens, you can finish off your turn, and that opponent will be notified by email that they need to play their turn, so negating the always disappointing factor of the more immature gamers logging out of the game as soon as they drop back, and look all set for defeat. Even battles are handled for an offline player, with the AI taking over and performing admirably well.

Graphics: 8
In all honesty, spectacular graphics arenít one of the drawing points to a strategy title such as War!, but, the visual aesthetics found in War! are of the kind of standard that weíd expect from a professional title. The clean, uncluttered menus, and the sheer ease at which you can traverse the interface is quite joyous. Itís not perhaps at the level it could be, but thereís very little to criticize here.

Sound: 8
Though sound effects and music arenít a particular requirement for this genre, but Donohoe again managed to pull off something quite spectacular. The quiet music slowly playing over and over in the background fits in quite perfectly with the style of the game.

Game Play: 9
Like the Risk style board game that it mimics, this is one game youíll be hard pressed to not enjoy. While there may not be any ďactionĒ to get involved with, the strategic brain youíll acquire will leave you hatching up plans turns in advance.

Value: 9
The different options involved when setting up the game give you the ability to create a completely different style of game each and every time you play. This means that youíll stick to War! for a very long time indeed. This, coupled with an addictive online gaming experience brings a total package thatís more than worth the outlay needed to purchase a copy.

Concept: 7
Letís be honest, this isnít a new, or even fresh concept. While the online aspect might be new in this particular style of game, itís all been done before numerous times with the likes of Europe Universalis. But surely thereís a case for the old adage ďif it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ and Risk is a great game!

Fun: 9
While the gameplay itself may initially seem repetitive, youíll be drawn back time and time again by the high level of fun that youíll gain from playing War!. The depth of gameplay, combined with its addictive quality equals a vast amount of fun.

Overall: 8
Thereís very little to criticize in War! Age of Imperialism. As a stand alone strategy title, the quality of the enemy AI, the online options, and the addictive gameplay total up to an addictive title. War is a top quality addition to the genre.
Added: March 22nd 2005
Reviewer: Chris Pickering
Hits: 5467


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