Empire of Magic

4_1Many turn-based strategy games like Civilization, Heroes of Might and Magic, Disciples, Age of Wonders, and Etherlords are all quality games, and either best sellers or at the very least cult classics. But as turn-based games continue to get pushed aside by the real-time strategy monster, it’s more important than ever to appeal to the genre’s rabid fan base, who will buy almost anything marginally worthwhile. Enter Empire of Magic, which is such an absolute mess that even die-hard fans should avoid the temptation.

It’s actually a strategy/role-playing hybrid, but its design is so bizarre that it crosses the line into absolute tedium. There are 16 missions that further the story of a young mage named Artemian. In each scenario, you must complete a quest such as “go kill the undead guys,†but it’s difficult because as you move units on the main map they lose action points.

These points are also used in combat, so if you move too far and an enemy decides to attack, your units enter the fray with literally no action points. This means they cannot attack or cast spells, i.e. they’re dead meat. To top it off, the game ends if Artemian or any other important hero dies, and this happens all too easily. It’s an exercise in boredom and irritation as you plod methodically along the map, making sure that you have enough points to defend yourself if an enemy flies at you from out of the black fog of war. It’s puzzle strategy gaming at its worst.

To make a bad game even worse, the original unpatched game came with a game killing bug in one of the quests that crashes the game every time to the desktop. A patch has since been issued to address this, but no game should ever ship in such a sorry state. Regardless, the core game simply isn’t much fun for a turn-based strategy fix.

System Requirements: Pentium III 500 MHz, 128 MB RAM, Win95

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