reviews\ Apr 4, 2001 at 8:00 pm

Fate of the Dragon - PC - Review

It’s the second century of China, the world is in flux and only three warlords have the power to control, to rise to power.

That is the concept behind Fate of the Dragon from Eidos Interactive, a civilization game for the PC. Looking at this program, one would think that they are looking at Microsoft’s Age of Empires civ building program. But look again. The game bears a striking resemblance to Age of Empires, graphically, but Fate is much more.

True, the same basic elements are in place, but they have been simplified to the extent that players have easier access to the development that will build the civilization.

There are three leading factions fighting for control of China, the Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Each has a portion to control, each has to build military might, and each has to formulate the resource-base to enable the corner of the empire to grow. Lacking resources, lacking the formula to build an empire, you will fail.

What Fate of the Dragons provides is a civ game that looks to the basic elements of the genre, while allowing players to work towards the final solution, which is emperor of the realm.

There are some difficulties with the program. First is the player interface. The tutorial is quite nice and allows players to grasp the basic concepts of the game. But the difficulty lies in manipulation of the maps elements. There are two maps on the player interface, one to the right and one on the left. The one on the left is the map face that players see initially. The one to the left is the overall map of the game. You can group a unit of soldiers and march them into the map on the right, but you do lose sight of them. It can be confusing.

But what Fate of the Dragons does, that is unique to the genre, is challenge players to make sure that each move is oriented to needs. If your troop is on a forced march to conquer an outlying territory, you will be able to pick up resource points – in the terms of taxation – but each soldier’s capability drops because food and power diminishes due to the extended marches.

The game manages to simplify some of the elements that are generic to the genre. For example, you have seven resource models that must be developed. Not only are you mining for the appropriate ores, and knocking down trees, but you have to establish farms for meat and wine. Gold is attained through taxation from occupying villages near your home base. If you assign a worker to a task, you can dismiss that worker if he is idle too long, but chances are that he will pitch in and help in another area.

The resource development happens quickly, and you must take advantage of that in order to build up the military might. This is a crucial element. The game happens much too quickly, in either single or multiplayer mode. If unprepared, you will suffer the consequences.

In many regards, this is a program that patterns itself after more familiar programs.

The graphical elements are very sound, the audio is supportive and the player interface is – for the most part – what has been thrust forward in other games.

Where Fate of the Dragons distinguishes itself is in the undercurrent of town management. This program is much more user friendly, less a micromanager style of play, and quite enjoyable.

Eidos has put together a civ game that breaks some new ground, puts the control more firmly in the hands of the player and delivers in intriguing civ/combat play.

This game is rated Teen for animated blood and gore, and animated violence.

Install: Easy.
At 270 megs of hard drive space, this product goes on easily and launches quickly.

Gameplay: 8.
The maps are hampered by the fog of war, which returns after areas explored are neglected. In spite of the fact that there are map movements that take some getting used to, this product has an area map that is incredibly large and intriguing.

Graphics: 7.5.
The graphics are good, but this is too much like an Age of Empires scenario to give it higher marks.

Sound: 7.
Solid, but nothing unexpected.

Difficulty: 8.5
The whole scenario – three warlords vying for control of a nation – makes this an urgent game to master. You can try to take your time to build, but time works against you if you are too slow.

Concept: 8
Simplifying the player interface is a nice touch, and relegating it to a certain time period really works here.

Multiplayer: 7.5.
Whether in multiplayer or single player mode, the idea remains the same. This product is mostly geared for direct play, a chess match in real time, but if you fail to master the elements of the program, you are sunk either way.

Overall: 8.
This product has some very nice touches, and the cutscenes are very well rendered. But does it really break new ground in the world of the civ genre? Not really. Does it build on the existing scope of the genre? Perhaps a bit. Fate of the Dragon is as solid a game as there is on the market, and a nice introduction to players to have never ventured into this realm. It is a good program, and quite enjoyable.


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