Fantasy Empires can be played in either single scenario or campaign mode and accommodates up to five players either human or chosen from twenty computer controlled opponents. Setting up your character involves naming him/her, choosing one of five possible classes (elf, magic-user, cleric, fighter or dwarf) and alignment (lawful, neutral or chaotic). An option is available to personalize the character with background information. The game's level of difficulty is dependent upon the strength of opponents' experience levels. Other options include depth of military involvement (fog of war or all troop movement visible) and randomness of world (random causes each territory to have different properties such as income and troop types).
The interface is mouse driven and uses on-screen function keys for aspects ranging from building construction to troop movement. Sequence is turn based until combat ensues where you have the option of realtime battle or letting the computer determine the outcome. Four major control devices in the game are buttons (gadgets), cycle buttons (up and down arrows with scrollable list of options), scrolls and books. Fantasy Empires has it's own system of money which is used mainly in construction (keeps, armories, temples, towers, castle walls). Several information screens are available that provide data in keeping up with your kingdom. For example, the Empire Screen shows total worth (troop strength, buildings, maintenance costs, etc.), a Hero Quest Screen shows status of searches for ancient magical artifacts and the Message Screen facilitates communication with opponents in terms of three available types of messages (message, aid and treaty). Other screens deal with casting spells, troop movement, troop training, building construction and game preferences.
The aforementioned bells and whistles merely touch on some of the options and details available in Fantasy Empires. Is the game fun? The answer probably depends on your level of expertise and commitment to detail required to play elaborate strategy war games. Novices will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of detail encountered whereas veteran players will have little trouble adapting to the flow. With four general orders used in battle and a mix of player character classes and races to keep track of, management can become tedious at times. Some classes or races can be trained or purchased to be heroes while others can only be used as general troops. It's this mix of characters, heroes and regulars along with their attendant abilities (strength, wisdom, intelligence, charisma, stamina and dexterity) that determine the strength and success of your kingdom along with a well honed plan of strategy for conquering the 98 regions of Mystara that make up the 12 countries in the land. Surprisingly, Fantasy Empires employs only a handful of possible spells with magic weapons and hero items outnumbering them nearly three to one. Needless to say, utilizing the option to turn off real time battle denigrates the experience as it makes playing Fantasy Empires merely an exercise in management control and strategic planning. But, viewed in a different light, perhaps it's the very existence of that choice that makes for a good game.
Graphics: Real time battle can be difficult at times to keep track of. Colorful if a bit blocky at times.
Sound: Adequate. Sound effects enhance game play, music is nondescript.
Enjoyment: Tough call. Enjoyment factor varies depending on stages of game play. Can be tedious at times but can be captivating as well.
Replay Value: Huge gaming world presents ample opportunity for replay as do wide variety of computer opponents.
Build and control an Empire! In Fantasy Empires you play the ruler of a fledging kingdom; your objective: Take over adjacent kingdoms one by one using magic, war, or strategic planning. Features real-time combat in an overhead view, as well as a computer controlled The Dungeon Master, who provides insight as well as comic relief. Form alliances, recruit armies, train heroes, send them on quests, cast spells, manage resourses. All set in the enchanted world of D&D.
Up to five players can take turns waging war against one another.
People who downloaded Fantasy Empires have also downloaded:
Fantasy General, Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance, Cyber Empire (a.k.a. Steel Empire), Fields of Battle, Gary Grigsby's Pacific War (2000), Dune 2000, Emperor of The Fading Suns, East Front 2
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