Empires: Dawn of the Modern World
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the developers of the Age of Empires must be mighty flattered with yet another continuous action strategy that could be a clone. Making no bones about jumping into the market, the introduction to the printed manual of Empires: Dawn of the Modern World starts out: "If you've played any popular real-time strategy game before...."
Besides up-to-date graphics and a rotating 3D zoom interface there really is very little new here. And the dearth of empires to rule makes it a little too obvious that more add-on titles may be in the pipeline.
The random games can span five eras, skipping the ancient times and staring right in with the Medieval epoch, then come the Gunpowder and Imperial ages. In these first three eras you have a choice of four, count 'em, four cultures to play -- the Franks, England, China and Korea. If you choose to start in a later era it would be either World War II. Starting a game in one of the latter two epochs or playing through from the beginning you'll have a choice of five cultures: The United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and Germany. The early four cultures can "evolve" into one of the latter five.or
This lack of variety in empires also leads to limited possibilities for opposing forces in your random games, to say the least. You'll spend a lot of time facing the Koreans.
The game includes a scenario editor -- again, very familiar to those who own the earlier titles -- and for subject matter your options are limited. With the mix of Europeans and the US a decent West Front campaign can be conjured up. But without Japan you'll have to forget the Pacific.
Also included are three campaigns of linked pre-built scenarios based on the English Richard the Lionheart, the American General George Patton, and, of course, the Korean Admiral Yi.
So what happens in a random game and you're the Imperial Age Koreans and you spend the resources to move into the WW I era? Well, you get a nonsensical message about how Korea declines to enter WWI but that they are "instead focusing on war". Then you get to choose between three Korean "allies," Russia, the US or France!
Until we saw this we were ready to give a Fans Only rating. As it is, this is a technically well-crafted game and some dedicated collecting-oriented fans might like to invest in, but an imitation Chippendale (chair, that is) would still be an imitation. Money that could add more variety to your game collection might be better spent elsewhere.