Fate of the Dragon
With the death of the Emperor Xian, the Eastern Han dynasty has collapsed. Unable to persevere in the face of deceased leadership, three great generals rise to take control of the fractious realm. Will you take the part of Sun Quan, a mighty leader who will one day earn the title of ‘Emperor Great’? Or would you become Liu Bei, the descendent of an ancient Emperor, destined to fight Sun Quan until an ultimate threat unites them against the enemies of China? Last, there is the powerful Cao Cao, the first King of Wei, a strong, united kingdom, a great leader in his own right, and perhaps the most likely person to lead the Three Kingdoms as Emperor.
Fate of the Dragon is a semi-historical real-time strategy title, newly released from Eidos Interactive. A cheap take on some of the more important events of 150-250 AD, Fate of the Dragon is an Age of Empires style game with a significant amount of historical pumped into its cheery little code. You’ve got three different roles to play in the single player campaign, each with slightly different campaigns and unit styles. Assisting you in this adventure is a helpful little in-game tutorial, which actually goes a long way in helping you understand the more complicated aspects of this game. Fate of the Dragon throws in a few mystical elements, with the ability to research magical spells, and doesn’t take too many pains in throwing too many historical elements at you.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Essentially a real-time strategy title, with some small micromanagement features thrown in for good measure, Fate of the Dragon is easily compared to Age of Empires, another RTS. Essentially duplicating Age of Empires, down to some of the iconography, Fate of the Dragon offers features for town building, harvesting resources, upgrading technology, and unit production for combat purposes.
Your troops are all ridiculously easy to control, as long as you understand that actions are issued with the right mouse button instead of the left. Your city centers around a Ceremonial Arch which produces your villagers, and your villagers harvest resources and create the buildings that form the core of your city. These buildings usually serve one or two purposes, and many of them are present purely to harvest resources. You'll be able to create farms, markets, and technology centers.
After you've created villagers and the suitable buildings, you'll be able to train them, turning a villager into a soldier. Your villagers can man a workshop, building the various siege engines that allow you to attack another city. To keep everything simple and easy to reference, there are actually two different maps that you use during each mission. One map is your city, containing your units, buildings, and many of your resources; the other being an area map that shows the territory you occupy, so you can send your units to distant places from the relative safety of your city. Functionally, the two maps are the same and you can march units from the country into your city (represented with a large 'city' structure on the territory map), who then show up on your city map.
One unique feature of this title is the large amount of micromanagement it takes to operate. Each villager needs to be tasked to gather resources, work in the workshop, plant crops on the farm, or feed pigs at a pig sty. You'll be given heroes who can fill positions in your military leadership, serving as your advisor in a particular matter, such as national security.
Fate of the Dragon supports up to eight players over a LAN or Internet connection and runs reasonably well using either. Given that the gameplay is identical to playing one of the single player campaigns and the interface for setting up the multiplayer game is easy to use, I’d say that this ranks as one of Fate of the Dragon’s better qualities.
Graphics & Audio
Fate of the Dragon, for a 2D real time strategy game, looks fairly good. Aside from high color units and buildings, you'll find intricate, detailed structures, accurate scenery, and good character animations. The only drawback is the tendency for flicker when using the mouse cursor. When using certain features, the mouse cursor moves to the upper right hand corner of the screen and flickers very rapidly, in a very annoying way. Also, the main menu art and design were created very poorly, with the pictures of the three rules displaying at a very low resolution.
Unfortunately, like most games today, there is little noteworthy in the Fate of the Dragon soundtrack or effects.
Windows 95/98/Me, PII 200mhz, 32MB RAM, 320MB HD Space, 4x CD-ROM Drive, 16MB Video Card, and a DirectX 7.0 Compatible Sound Card.
Fate of the Dragon is little more than a sophisticated Age of Empires clone with slightly better art. The only thing original in this title is the extra little micro-management features that let you keep a tight reign on your growing civilization. With a weak historical storyline and little in the way of good looking graphics, Fate of the Dragon is another RTS I’d be quick to shelve. Perhaps worth it for a select few who are very interested in Chinese history, the relatively dry nature of this material makes it far from worth it.