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Games Convention: Empire of Magic Impressions
Jaz, 2003-08-28

The Games Convention 2003 in Leipzig was significantly bigger than the first GC in 2002 - and what's more, this time a significantly larger amount of CRPGs (or games with RPG elements) were shown. Unfortunately, the two days I spent at the GC weren't enough to cover all of the RPG/like games - in fact, I was really glad I glimpsed as many games as I did, because sprinting from booth to booth, from award ceremony to press center and back while elbowing my way through hordes of gamers took a considerable amount of time.

Here is a short overview of Empire of Magic.

Empire of Magic (Schanz Interactive, PC)
At the booth of Schanz Interactive I was introduced to Empire of Magic, a round-based, medieval fantasy strategy game with RPG elements.
The concept is as neat as they can come: about 100 different kinds of units, 122 different spells, character development, about 100 hours of (single player) gaming time, weather- and terrain-dependent visibility and ranges, the possibility to fortify groups of units and - best of all - a non-cheating AI (do you hear this, Westwood? ;-) ). Butů there's also a downside, and from the little I could glimpse this downside seems to consist of a) graphics and b) the difficulty.

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a) Graphics: they are just not up to modern standards. It's not so much the FMVs (at least the intro was really cool) or the hand-painted 2D sprites themselves (they are pretty enough), but a serious lack of animation phases which practically jumped at me the moment I saw the first character move. Weather effects aren't too convincing, either; this may be a side-effect of the birdy-perspective, but the rain at least was very distractive - for me, not necessarily for the units on the map. Combat is fought on a special map which is the case with many round-based combat games, but I had appreciated it had the weather effects been visible on the combat map as well.

b) Difficulty: watching the performance convinced me it's just too high for a casual gamer. I haven't tested it myself yet, but there's a preview copy in my backpack, and as soon as I'm home again I'll look into it. I'll also compare this game version to the one from the earlier preview we posted in February.

First Impression
Undecided as of yet. The strategy portion looks promising while the antiquated graphics together with the high difficulty level make this game primarily suited for hardcore TBS gamers. Preview will follow.

Average Reader Ratings: 3 (1 votes)
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