Poseidon: Zeus Official Expansion
After overthrowing the powers that be, Zeus, Hades and Poseidon divvied the world up. Poseidon landed the sea, and eventually the ocean deity stumbled upon a beautiful island inhabited by the even more beautiful Cleito. It wasn't long before Cleito bore Poseidon five sets of twin boys and the god named the land Atlantis after his eldest son Atlas. The land had everything it needed and in exchange made a pledge never to attack another people. It wasn't long before Atlantis ran out of goodies and broke that pledge, angering the gods who sunk the island to the bottom of the ocean. Maybe you can do better as you strive to balance your people's needs with the foreboding presence of the all-powerful gods.
Developer Impressions Games finally broke from the pack with last year's Zeus: Master of Olympus. The city-building series moved the genre light-years ahead of its predecessors, Caesar and Pharaoh. Although there aren't epic improvements in Impressions' latest work, Poseidon breaks enough ground to renew the playability of Zeus. Poseidon is chock-full of the usual suspects with 25 new episodes in four new adventures, new units to command during war, new monsters and new civilizations.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
As with its predecessor, Poseidon is very faithful to the classic descriptions of its backdrop. In this case the vast island continent of Atlantis is based on Plato's writings, which purportedly were based on the earlier writings of ancient Egyptian priests. Plato describes the island as ten concentric rings, which make for excellent natural defense but make city building a bit tricky. City development has been streamlined in Poseidon both to fit the history of the land and to make gameplay a bit simpler.
The biggest change has to be the lack of entertainment structures; instead Atlanteans get their kicks out of scientific discoveries. (It's not quite what I'd call a party island.) Instead of building theaters and gyms, you will be concentrating on bibliothekes, laboratories, planetariums and museums. When the scientists make a discovery they wander the streets telling everyone about it and spreading cheer and goodwill in their wake. Another streamlining change is a near-elimination of battles. Sure, you can command a mighty Atlantean army of archers, spearman and charioteers; you can even raise a navy, but you'll find that warfare isn't a big part of this game. This is a good thing, especially since the biggest weakness in Zeus was its battles.
On top of the changes in gameplay you'll find the city, awash in cool shades of blue, has a much different aesthetic style. The game allows you to build sanctuaries to new Greek gods like Hera, Atlas, Cronos and Amphitrite. You also get to use new resources like black marble and orichalc to build pyramids, decorate buildings or build a sanctuary to Poseidon. The game also includes four new monsters -- the Chimera, Echidna, Harpies and the Sphinx -- as well as the new Greek heroes Bellerophon and Atalanta to do battle with the beasties. Finally, the add-on comes with a neat little Adventure Editor, which lets you craft adventure in ancient Greece or Atlantis.
Aside from the aesthetic differences introduced with the change to an island locale, the level of graphics remain pretty much the same as in Zeus.
The sound in Poseidon is unchanged from that in Zeus.
Required: P-166 or equivalent, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95, 4X CD-ROM drive, 2 MB video card capable of 16-bit color at 800x600 resolution, installed version of Zeus: Master of Olympus.
Recommended: P-266, 64 MB RAM, 650 MB hard drive space; 4 MB video card; DirectX-compatible sound card
Poseidon is much more about prettying the game up than it is about changing gameplay or adding new features, but when it comes down to it, aren't all city-building games really just about constructing a beautiful city and watching the populace thrive in it? This budget add-on, coming in at just under $20, is well worth the loot if you're into city builders or have grown tired of watching your Greeks amble about their land-locked Italian province. Poseidon adds enough eye-candy to the mega-hit Zeus to recapture your attention and perhaps rekindle your love for everything old and Greek.