Empire of Magic is a turn-based strategy game following the adventures of a young magician, Artemian. Players will begin their adventure by investigating the disappearance of a local prince. However, Artemian's quest quickly expands as undead hordes ravage a falling empire and civil war begins. Sixteen scenarios take players through rocky terrain, deserts, grasslands, snowy gorges, and cities. Over 80 different units -- soldiers, skeletons, paladins, minotaurs, etc. -- and heroes gain experience, levels, and abilities. However, unit movement changes depending on the terrain, so strategies must account for the surrounding battlefield. Magic users -- druids, mages, and psionics -- can access over 120 spells.
Mayhem Studios' Empire of Magic is a fantasy turn-based strategy game. With the exception of the spell effects, the graphics are bland and unattractive. The music is nice, but the voice acting is poor, sound effects are merely adequate, and worst of all is the terrible dialogue. It would appear that the translations in Empire of Magic were done by non-native English speakers; you'll find it difficult to understand what some quests are about just because the dialogue was so badly worded.
Empire of Magic is filled with any number of bad game design decisions, the action point system being the worst. Each unit has a number of action points that they can use to move, attack, and cast spells, and characters on foot have fewer action points than characters on horseback. If you're out of action points, you can neither move nor attack, so running out of action points near an enemy is the fastest way to find yourself at the load screen if one of your heroes is killed. And your hero will always be killed, because the computer always attacks him, no matter what difficulty level you choose to play on. You're also limited to only three units in any stack, and you can't have multiple heroes in one stack.
Here's how typical combat in Empire of Magic plays out. First, move towards an enemy stack so they walk toward you and run out of action points, but not close enough to actually initiate the attack. Use a few action points to move and attack. The combat screen comes up. Because you initiated combat, you'll always get to go first, and because the enemy ran out of action points, they won't get to retaliate. Ever! Now, assign spells and melee attacks. Continue this method until you've used up all your action points or the enemy is dead, whichever comes first. You can auto-assign attacks, and the computer does a pretty good job, but that cuts down on even more of what you can do in the game. Another problem is that you can't select an option to continue doing what you did last turn. If you're manually assigning attacks, you have to tell each unit what to do every round. Be sure you don't allow the situation to be reversed. Should you run out of action points and get trapped in combat, you're a sitting duck.
An important element of good game design is that you shouldn't be able to kill off characters you'll need for quests you haven't been given yet. Apparently, someone missed that memo, because it's possible to ruin an entire level by killing off important NPCs who -- unbeknownst to you -- you'll need for the main quest. An example is in level three, where your party will come upon two guards standing before a large statue. Should you kill those guards before you've received and completed the quest related to them, you won't be able to finish the level. Finding this out after completing one hundred and fifty tedious, boring turns -- not including the numerous reloads you'll do after spiders killed your hero -- will probably make most people want to burn their CD on the stove (don't do it, though; the fumes are poisonous).
Empire of Magic's control scheme is wacky, and though you might get used to it in time, you'll never like it. Most strategy games allow you to left-click a unit, assign commands, then left-click on another unit, and so on. Empire of Magic requires you to right-click to deselect each unit. After a few combats of left-click, assign attack, right-click to deselect unit, etc. you'll wonder what the developers were thinking. The controls are neither intuitive nor sensible.
Multiplayer contains two maps and requires you to use TCP/IP or IPX. Multiplayer is also limited to two players only. It's a tacked-on addition to the game, and a bad one at that.
People who downloaded Empire of Magic have also downloaded:
Empire Earth II, Etherlords, Etherlords 2, Empire Earth, Europa Universalis 2, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, Europa 1400: The Guild, Emperor: Battle for Dune
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