PowerMonger Review by Al Giovetti


By Al Giovetti
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PowerMonger Review (01/11/1991)

Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters


On January 11, 1991, Audrey Gustafson, Public Relations Assistant at Electronic Arts sent me the game PowerMonger for the 520 Atari ST review in QuestBusters (cc: D Dempsey):

PowerMonger A Unique Wargame with a Twist<> A Software REview by Alfred C Giovetti

From the moment you open the box, you know PowerMonger is different. Like Populous, Bullfrog's earlier game, PowerMonger is a strategy wargame of epic proportions. The game differs significantly from Populous in many aspects, but oth game get better with time. If you think you are bored with the game, try some of the harder areas. Some of the map areas can humble the greatest strategist.

Unlike Populous, PowerMonger is not subject to divine intervention, which may not appeal to those who like their wars easy. PowerMonger's little wars are carried on in real time on a series of strategic maps spread out on a 13 x 15 campaign map grid of 195 lands. The game is won by successfully cutting a swath from map 1,1 to 13,15. You are permitted to save at any time with each floppy disk holding up to four save positions.

Once you have selected your strategic map from the campaign map, you are presented iwth the main game play map screen. Under tna to the left of the oblique vies of the playing field are mouse activated icons representing the main functions of the game. The game functions allow for attack, get men from city or tower, transfer men between captains, spy on enemy camp, send captain to any location, go home to city or tower of origin, derank (let men go home), get food, drop food, supply food, equip invention, drop invention and invent.

Most of these function keys are modified by the posture or alignment keys which range passive, normal and agressive posture. If the command involves numbers of people, food or inventions, 25% will be affected in passive, 50% in neutral and 100% in agressive, so that a neutral "get men" command performed on a city with ten men will result in the recruitment of five men.

Posture affects attack and invent in very special ways. A passive attack on a city will allow the inhabitant to return home when they have enough of fighting and become recruited as loyal subjects of your empire. An agressive attack on a roving enemy army will attempt to kill all of the army. When these men die you can pick up the equipment they are carrying. When the captain is killed you get his food and extra supply cache.

Inventing is a very important concept and is explained in the documentation on page 31. You can only invent in medium sized towns that have workshops. A leader can be assigned to invent his own town without haing any men assigned to him as long as the town has sufficient inhabitants to follow his commands, thus saving food for more important things. Trade appears to loosely follow inventing in exchanging food for available items.

Above and to the right of the tactical map, up to six captains are arranged. Captains can be acquired by conquest of towns to which they show allegiance and to which they are currently returning. Captains can be ordered by use of pigeon messages to do any of the functions of the main captain. You lose the strategic map when the main captain is killed. You win the strategic map when over half of the men and cities have allegiance to your empire (look at the scales int eh left hand panel).

PowerMonger has seasons, the inhabitants age and die, trees are chopped down and are replenished, it snows and rains. The weather and terrain affects the speed of marching and inventing. The trees and the land green in the spring and summer and lose their leaves in the fall. The landscape is very realistic.

Like Populous, PowerMonger has a multi-player interactive mode that can be effected via null modem or fast phone modem. The game will give many hours of strategy in this mode which allows for communication to your enemies and allies via the voice or data modem connection.

PowerMonger has the facility to save games, load games, format disks, change game speed. The options key holds many convenient andessential game play functions. Copy protection is by matching a map in the book to the map on the screen and answering questions about the number of trees, sheep, men, houses, boats and birds contained in the map from convenient tables on each page of the book.

PowerMonger graphics, animation, sound effects and musical score are first rate. The game will elicit many responses from people who travel near enough to your computer console to hear and see the effects.

PowerMonger is a complex game which is not fully explained by the manual that comes with the game. The tactics and strategy involve a very complex interplay of many factors. You must use opportunity swiftly and take advantage of cutting the supply of an opponents advance, pitting one opponent against another, and taking chances that may or may not pan out. PowerMonger is about risk.

PowerMonger, Populous and Lemmings define a new genre in strategy gaming. These games must be played to be believed. There is a certain need for an avid gamer to have a chess game, a checkers game and PowerMonger in their collection. PowerMonger is one game that I highly recommend for years of pleasure. This is a game you will open years from now and enjoy over and over again.

PowerMonger, Bullfrog Software, Electronic Arts, Langley Business Center, 11-39 Stationi Road, Langley, Berks, SL3 8YN England, Tel: (0753) 49442 or 467465. Electronic Arts, 1820 Gateway Drvie, San Mateo, California 94404, Tel: (415) 571-7171

Versiona: IBM, Amiga and Atari ST Graphics: 3-D Vector Sound: digital Price: $49.95 retail Type of Game: Exotic Hybrid Real-Time Strategy Adventure


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