SuperPower takes the turn-based world political simulation to new heights by letting you direct any of 140 countries, with total control ranging from the level of ore production or taxes levied to which countries to sabotage or ravage with an all-out nuclear assault. While some strategy games give you control over specific countries, SuperPower actually allows you to set your own winning conditions from four possible goal-oriented objectives: conquer the world, eliminate armed rebels, balance your country's resources, or stay in power. Whether you choose to conquer the world and stay in power as the leader of the United States, or do the same for New Zealand, obviously a much more difficult task, the ability to establish your own range of difficulty is definitely a luxury.
GolemLabs spent four years researching information about all 140 countries "based on official data taken from U.S. Military and CIA databases," and the painstaking research of all the declassified information paid off with a very deep game. For example, over 4,000 military unit designs alone went into the mix and the world's geo-political situation is depicted as accurately as possible for January 1, 1997. Some gamers may feel this makes the game out-of-date, but that's not so -- the world depicted in SuperPower emulates the exact state of the globe on that particular starting date.
At times, keeping up with all aspects of running a single country in relation to the entire world can be difficult. Each country has detailed information on demographics, economics, political relations, natural resources, treaties, and military data down to exact weapons and units. The developers intended to avoid the unrealistic viewpoint posited by similar games that all countries are equal at the outset, and succeeded admirably, as the information is truly accurate and current through 1997. If you decide to launch a nuclear strike at another country, expect other countries to follow suit and turn their aggression toward you.
In terms of gameplay, SuperPower is rather easy to learn, considering its vast scope. Elements like resources, technology, city development, and the military have individual pull-down menus to prevent confusion. If you're stumped, an advisor more than adequately assists you on how to solve problems, and should you engage in war against another country, unit movement and organization of the entire war effort is easily accomplished.
The most important elements (demography, politics, economy, and military) are color-coded, along with associated events, for ease of recognition. This easy to use interface makes a potentially complex simulation enjoyable and eliminates much of the tedium experienced in similar titles. Also, due to the changing nature of the political world, the game is extremely non-restrictive. You can choose to sit back and watch the rest of the world while solving domestic problems, be aggressive by creating military units and expanding your borders, or simply meddle in world affairs.
The ultimate outcome is truly a product of your involvement and how other countries react to your actions, but the artificial intelligence goes beyond that. The proprietary AI engine behind SuperPower, the Evolutionary Human Emulator or EHE, makes realistic decisions for each country during every round of play. It truly seems to live up to its "revolutionary" boast by actually learning from its own mistakes and not repeating them in the same game or even future sessions, making the game deeper, more realistic, and increasingly challenging with extended play. Since the EHE isn't aware of which country is under your control, no special advantages or disadvantages are encountered.
Many strategy games require you to conquer the world to win, but SuperPower offers alternatives, with adjustable difficulty settings geared to accommodate personal preferences. Combined with the total freedom of choice and accurate detailed world demographics, it's a gratifying and fulfilling experience. The organization of the immense database allows both novices and experts to equally enjoy the challenge. If the world is your playground and strategy your forte, you won't want to miss SuperPower.
Graphics: Graphics are pedestrian at best. In fact, GolemLabs admits the graphics may not be fancy like those seen in similar games but correctly points out that gameplay more than makes up for it. The graphics adequately support the rich gameplay without being a distraction.
Sound: Very little sound is used in the game. However, the developers strongly recommend using the option to play your own MP3 files or music CDs while playing. With the world's geo-political future at stake, this eliminates the distraction of listening to unwanted music and gives you freedom to personalize the experience even more.
Enjoyment: Hardcore strategists will love the game's depth. With so much to do, the game can be overwhelming for the casual gamer at first, but the easy interface helps with the learning curve. The game is difficult and the challenges remain high, especially with the excellent AI that learns from its own mistakes and adapts accordingly.
Replay Value: In-depth play and adjustable goals create an endless amount of replay. Adjust the amount of turns you have to achieve your goals, establish next to impossible objectives, choose any of 140 countries, make strategic decisions -- the ability to constantly change the game's direction ensures long-term enjoyment.
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