Hammer of the Gods is a typical goal-oriented quest game with aspects of strategy, combat and adventure. Strategically you must first make decisions regarding which path to follow. Selecting the human option requires accumulating a large arsenal of magic weapons while the dwarf option is centered on amassing cities that generate income. As a troll you'll need to specialize in military might and if you choose the elven path you'll seek control over growth and fertility (world population). Strategy is further invoked as you work your way through the tree of life (Yggdrasil), or the "god tree", in selecting your next assignment (quest). Combat is accomplished via a side-perspective screen with the attacking force on the left and the defenders on the right side (both limited to eight). Using either combat or magic requires point and click action and results are computed on strengths and weaknesses of the combatants. The only strategy revolves around your choice of who to attack with which of your troops. The option to run (only by the attackers, never the defenders) and physical battleground structures such as walls (affecting missiles and movement) add an additional element to your battle decisions. Once you win a battle, you have options of raiding, plundering, razing or subjugating your enemies. Each option impacts your army in different ways toward your ultimate goal. There are five separate location sites with increasingly higher populations (hamlet, village, burgh, town and city) to interact with along with nine different terrain types with varying degrees of resources like food and trade wares. These affect your tax take and food levels that impact your strength.
Magic in Hammer of the Gods consists of five separate types (weapons and armor, global items, blessings, tactical spells and strategic spell devices). Magical weapons are used as ability modifiers (melee, missile or number of attacks), tactical spell devices affect combat, global items cast permanent spells affecting all units, blessings relate to terrain enhancements and strategic spell devices target adjacent units (for example, storm, wither, assassinate). All units have melee, missile, defense, cost and movement points associated with them which can be further modified by terrain restrictions. Hammer of the Gods uses a system of pull down menus from which you perform actions (build, colonize, diplomacy, barter, etc.) or recruit additional troops.
The interface of Hammer of the Gods is mainly mouse-driven but the keyboard can be used to activate commands as well. Generally, the action is smooth but there is the occasional confusion between an active screen spot and an inactive one. Effective speech is used along with a full complement of sound effects and atmospheric mood music to accompany your questing. One drawback, however, is the sludgy performance of the computer AI in making advanced game level decisions as your turn count gets higher and higher. Hammer of the Gods is a slickly produced, interesting mix of many game elements and should appeal to most fans of the genre.
Graphics: Nicely done for 1994. Superb opening animated sequence. Artwork is good quality and game shipped with two levels of resolution (VGA & SVGA) with 256 color.
Sound: Music is better than voice but all together sound is a good package.
Enjoyment: Keeps your interest as your character reaches new levels of advancement and decisions become more difficult.
Replay Value: Lots of decisions that go into setting up the game create diverse paths to follow in execution. Multiple levels of difficulty along with the central choice of which race to play gives this one replay value.
Hammer of the Gods is a strategy game that recreates the world the way the Vikings experienced it. The gods are a real consideration in the decisions made and glorious death one of the highest goals. Unlike other strategy games, the building of the empire is not necessarily the ultimate objective.
The player competes against other players to earn the favor of the Norse gods and become the Hammer of the Gods. The player can raid coastal villages, conquer cities and then link them together by building roads. Next, build castles to protect them. The particular path that the player follows to victory will vary based on the "family" of gods that is chosen at the beginning of the game. Maintaining honor in the eyes of the other Vikings is important throughout the game. The four paths are Human, Elf, Troll and Dwarf. Any of these may become Odin's chosen leader on Midgard by completing his quest and ensuring the player's place in legend.
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