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Genre: Quiz/Puzzle/Strategy :: Players: 1 :: Released: 12/6/05

Ancient Empires II Review

Developer: Macrospace

Pros

Game Features

Rating/100

8 story levels and 12 skirmish levels!
Superb playability with up to 4 players on some skirmish levels.
Game can be saved at any time on up to 3 slots.

Cons

No Cons! That's good :)

Sound
Help
Save Option
Highscore
Suspend/Resume
Bus/Tube Friendly
See Compatible Handsets

98

Graphics

98

Sound

98

Controls

98

Playability

99

Lastability

99

Review Details
Handset Sharp GX20

Anannya Sen’s Review

Review Date: 13/6/05

The sequel to the Bafta award nominated Ancient Empires! Is it better than the orignal? Check out the review!


Before I write this review, I have to point out something. I may be slightly biased while writing it as Ancient Empires 1 was my favourite game for mobile phones. The design, graphics and playability were all first class, so without further ado, let's get onto the sequel.

Ok, the graphics have definitely been improved slightly. The original graphics were great but this time there is more detail on the characters, better backgrounds and a better feel to the game. The plotline messages are still manga orientated drawings and look great and the intro is not bad either. There's more colour but they have changed the characters slightly and my only comment is that I preferred the way golems used to look in the original. But that's it, other than that, the graphics are great.

Soundwise I have to say that there's not much new. The sound was really great in the original and as such, was hard to improve. There's still a great tune when loading the game up and in game and also a separate tune when the AI moves (more of a 'danger' tune!), tones when you attack and also vibration. You couldn't really ask for much more.

The controls are just as simple as before and the menu and control system is definitely improved. You can use the D or key pad to move your pointer around and also navigate the menu's. When you select a character you get a menu at the top right of the screen which you can cycle through. You get options to move, attack or end turn depending on what you can do. When you move or attack you can select your targets easily. When it comes to ending your turn you get a menu brought up (which you can also access during the game at any time by either the left shoulder button or the main button when not on a square with one of your troops in it) which allows you to see the map, save the game, access the main menu etc. Believe me, you get used to the controls very very quickly and the instructions (both menu and in game) are first rate.

The gameplay is stunning. The original gameplay was first class and left little room for improvement. The developers have tweaked it slightly though and while nothing major has changed, little things have enough to make you feel satisfied. If you never played the original, I'll give you a brief summary. The game is a turn based combat game where you have to defeat the enemy army. There is a plot and so there are different missions. The way to play is to gain control of a castle and nearby houses to generate income and build troops. There are many different types of troops each with different attributes and strengths and weaknesses. Terrain also plays a big part as it brings a strategy element - if you attack from mountain peaks with defence of 15 you'll take less damage than attacking from just a plain road with defence of 0. For more detail check out our review of Ancient Empires and hints which still apply for Ancient Empires II. I'll go over the improvements. Apart from the graphics, the menu and map features are great. You can quit the game or save at any time and also check out the objective. Now when your characters have finished moving they become greyed out so you can tell. Also, the two armies sport opposing colours, you are usually blue and your opponent is red. The units have changed their names slightly but the attributes remain the same (wyverns have become dragons, the spiders are now dire wolves etc). There were experience points before but a level system has been introduced with more statistics for each unit. You can check out a unit's stats by pressing 7 on each unit. Each level up gives a unit a new name and also makes them a bit harder. This means that if you manage to keep say a unit of soldiers alive for a long battle and they keep going up experience levels they will be able to take things out much easier (took me two attacks to take out a unit of dire wolves with a soldier unit on level 4). Also, you can now use catapults to attack the houses that you occupy which is another strategic element. Houses can be repaired but this takes a turn and so requires more thinking. You can now also buy commanders so if your leader falls, the game isn't over although the more they die, the more expensive they are to buy back. Finally, the thing which was our only gripe with number 1 has been significantly improved, the AI doesn't take long at all to move which is great! Overall a few little tweaks to improve what was already superb gameplay.

In terms of lastability the game has also significantly improved. There are three modes now, the story mode, a level select mode where you can play your favourite level and also the skirmish mode from before where you can just have fun battling. There are 8 levels in story mode and the last one is HARD! This AI isn't stupid and if you make a mistake it'll move in for the kill. Also, the AI will try and bait you into making mistakes so, like a game of chess, and to quote a line from my favourite TV show of all time, 'you have to be able to see the whole board'. There are now 3 save slots which you can use and you can save at any time mid turn so you can make sure that if you make a mistake you can go back and try again. The last level took me a while to complete and while I won't spoil the surprise, let me just say that you're under the kosh right from the start. Then you've got the level select mode where you can pick one of the 8 story levels to play and finally you have the skirmish mode where you can now have a fight on one of 12, yes 12, different levels. Also, you can play this mode up to 4 players on some levels and set your money and unit caps. These levels get unlocked the further you get in story mode which is great.

This game scored very highly previously and it doesn't disappoint again. The game is currently my favourite game on a phone and if you don't own it you should!