Your Sinclair

Dark Empire
By Lothlorien
Spectrum 48K

Published in Your Sinclair #19

Dark Empire

To the hardened grongnard (that's wargamer to you) fantasy games can give rise to violent feelings quite unlike the more meditative moods of the armchair general.

In theory, the games idea is an interesting one. Starting with just one city and one army unit, you have to capture more territory of an alien planet to create greater forces.

This is combined with a scrolling map that only reveals the areas your units have covered, and a cursor and menu control system. You can tell a city to construct certain types of military unit - land, sea or air, and instruct a unit to move, attack or hold a position.

All of which could be fine, but for some sloppy thinking somewhere along the line. It starts with the instructions. Even given that Lothlorien wanted to produce an accessible game, it shouldn't have tried to cut back on the rules. The inside of the inlay card tells you so little about what you can do that I'm still not sure what all the on-screen figures are about.

The map itself is small, and it's not always obvious what's happening. When I tried to make a multiple attack on a city and the game crashed I wasn't tempted to re-load. Lothiorien was one of the first companies to back serious wargaming. Thus are the mighty fallen!

Gwyn Hughes

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