History of the World is an entertaining board game that just begged for a computer translation. Like most Avalon Hill games, it uses tiny cardboard tiles to designate things like number of troops, ships, capitals, cities and monuments. The tiles are one of the most important elements of the game because they show which territories are occupied by specific empires.
As you can imagine, it's extremely easy to lose track of who has what if someone accidentally drags an arm across the board (or if an inquisitive cat is nearby). Thus, a computer version would automatically do away with this nuisance and also free players from keeping score. This is a relief since points have to be tallied after each of the seven phases of the game, and there are a lot of different ways an empire can earn them.
Players take turns playing their empire cards and making moves they feel will earn them the most points. This involves first starting in the land designated by the empire card, building a capital (if the card says the empire had one), and allocating the specified number of troops in surrounding areas. Certain regions are worth more than others during different phases of the game, and if you manage to occupy all of the color-coded territories in a region, you'll receive bonus points.
Points can also be earned for having cities, monuments, ships, capitals or just maintaining a presence in any region. The strategy is in how you go about trying to earn points. Do you spread your troops thinly in order to occupy a large number of territories? Or do you instead focus on placing troops in a concentrated area to increase the odds they'll be around after the phase (epoch) is over? Since you keep earning points for past empires, there is long-term planning involved.
The computer game handles the scoring perfectly and provides challenging computer opponents to satisfy even the most hardened veteran of strategy games. An added benefit is that it's much faster to play without worrying about counting each tile over and over again. There's only one small problem: hardly anything was enhanced from the game! It's like having the board game slapped directly onto your monitor -- complete with those tiny tiles covering the different territories. A 3D mode would have gone a long way in improving the cluttered look of the screen.
Yet the worst part is you can't play over the Internet or on a LAN, which is simply inexcusable for a 1997 release. If Risk CD-ROM can be played over the Internet, then you should easily be able to do the same with History of the World. While you can play by e-mail, a feature appropriate for time-consuming war games, this isn't exactly Napoleon in Russia in terms of depth! The bottom line: fans of the board game shouldn't expect much from the computer version, but those who enjoy light strategy games will still find it fun to play.
Graphics: The game board is shown from a top down perspective, but it is often hard to see all of the territories because of the tiles. Like the board game, they cover portions of the land and give the board a messy look. The little movies that play for some of the events aren't the most polished I've seen.
Sound: Each time period has its own theme song and sound effects will play during combat, events, etc.
Enjoyment: The game should have more features to offer some variety. The lack of Internet support really hurts and the interface could use some improvement as well.
Replay Value: The single-player game is fun to play due to the challenging opponents. Those who want to play with a group of friends will have to settle for a ridiculous play by e-mail system.
"A very faithful computer translation of the board game, this covered the course of civilization from 3000 BC to 1900 AD. A quick-playing game, it divided history into seven epochs with each player drawing a new civilization every epoch (turn). Beware -- the Roman and British Empires have a tremendous effect and other plays must join forces to cut them down to size. If size isn't everything, then turn placement surely is." Overall, a fun game that will appeal to fans of the board game, but probably to "dry" for others.
People who downloaded History of The World have also downloaded:
Kingmaker, Imperialism 2: The Age of Exploration, High Command: Europe 1939-1945, History Line: 1914-1918 (a.k.a. Great War: 1914-1918, The), Imperialism, Great Battles: Collector's Edition, The, Advanced Civilization, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000)
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