Empire of the Ants

Here’s a real-time strategy game set in an insect world straight out of a National Geographic nature show. Based loosely on the book of the same name (no, I haven’t read it either), Empire of the Ants puts you in control of a massive ant colony, striving to survive amid all of nature’s various threats to our six-legged heroes.

5_1Every element of this game is standard RTS fare, interpreted from an ant’s point of view. The queen ant acts as a unit producer, cranking out multitudes of ants to fill roles such as farmers, medics, builders, and, of course, soldiers. To control production, the isometric view is shifted to the colony’s interior, where a network of tunnels and rooms makes up your “base.†Micromanagement is key here, as you have to make enough nurseries, houses, and storage areas to accommodate the family. The queen is also housed here, so it’s best to keep her well-defended.

Outside, a plethora of predators threaten your ants, including beetles, wasps, mantises, and even other ants. Other colonies are competing for the same resources, which leads to inevitable conflict. Battles are waged with the soldier ants, of which there are various breeds — some are stronger, some are faster. The control scheme is just point-and-click, again in standard RTS manner.

In spite of the unique angle on RTS struggles, Empire of the Ants suffers from poor implementation. The interface is unintuitive, with hard-to-decipher menus and illogical “tech†trees. The underground camera view isn’t ideal for controlling the colony, as many of your elaborately constructed networks fall offscreen and become tough to navigate. The game does sport a decent multiplayer mode. But aside from its clever subject matter, the game is a run of the mill RTS.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98

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