Friday, November 25, 2011

Top 50 Video Games: Number 26

Stats of Import

Platform: PC
Absurdly Specific Genre: Risk® with Giant Robots
Difficulty: Probably a 4 once you got the hang of it. The AI got a little dumb in spots.
Beaten: I've finished the campaign a number of times.

This one is relatively obscure, I certainly don't remember it making very much of a splash when it first came out in 1992. The basics of the game were similar to Risk: capture land to gain money, use money to buy armies, use armies to capture new land and defend land that you already have. Of course, Risk used die rolls (or random number generators) to determine victors, where Cyber Empires (or Steel Empire, as it was known on the Amiga) gave you giant robot fights.

Advantage: Cyber Empires
There were two distinct sections to the game. The first was the world map. All of the administration was done from this segment. There were different styles of land that required different strategies. Volcanic land had open spaces, but also had lava pools that would overheat your mechs. Cities featured urban warfare and gave large monitary bonuses, and were impossible to fortify. Different mechs would be better suited to different areas, and had a variety of different weapons. From here you decided which countries to attack, where to place fortifications, and which which mechs to build.

The second were the actual battle screens, where you were told how to go about the attack (there were different situations where you'd want to go after the enemy mechs, or perhaps run a suicide attack to destroy the fortifications, or maybe just damage enough of an enemy city to where their monitary gains from it would be drastically reduced).

Yeah, you're going to die, but think of what this'll do to their economy!
The AI was... 'eh'. On one hand, it was generally pretty good at the administration portion of things (God help you if a CPU set to 'brilliant' got its hands on one of the goldmine cities to start out the game), but it often flubbed in the battles, always preferring straight lines to attack your mechs, never initiallizing any sort of guerilla warfare. It was just good enough to keep things interesting, without ever feeling like a proper challenge (which actually knocks this game quite a ways down the list, it probably could've hit top 20 otherwise). Multiplayer was fun at first, but unless all the players were just as into it as you were, it got Monopoly-itis (everyone loves playing a 5 hour game for the first hour and a half).

Considering everything, though, it all added up to one of the deeper and richer strategy game experiences I've seen, especially for a game released nearly 20 years ago (granted, most strategy games seem to go the RTS route, ala Starcraft and Command and Conquer, these days). I'd love to see this one redone with new graphics and decent AI. Until then, I've still got the original, and that'll hold me over for a while longer.

After all, General Deathdealer is still plotting my destruction.

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