Friday, October 28, 2005

Empires Collection: The Dynasties: 5PK (DVD)

I see PBS/Paramount has released a five-disk set of some of the Empires episodes.

The 5 disc collection include: The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization (2000), The Roman Empire in the First Century (2001), Egypt's Golden Empire (2002), Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire (2004), The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance (2004)

"Within the history of civilization are great eras of struggle, triumph, and loss. These periods are reflective of the best and worst of humanity. Empires is a ground breaking series of historical films which present the people and passions that have changed the world. Empires Collection: The Dynasties is a compilation of five outstanding stories of some of histories greatest dynasties."

Although the regular retail price is $89, I got a brand new "in the shrinkwrap" set from an Amazon vendor for only $55. I enjoyed these presentations very much, particularly the Greek and the Medici programs.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sparta: Ancient Wars

"The ancient time where the Spartans were the leading faction at the Mediterranean Sea was a famous time. The battles between mighty tribes were fought with such an intense power, that unknown soldiers became heroes on the battlefield. Sparta ? Ancient Wars will bring this mighty time to new life, where each player will have the opportunity to bring his own tribe to health, fame and wealth. It is the first real time strategy game that will deliver never before seen stunning graphics, high level of detail, complete 3D gameplay, rich economics, no unit limitation, an own developed physics engine and many never before seen features to this genre. So watch out ? a new age will rise with Sparta ? Ancient Wars!

The main emphasis is on large-scaled battles and complex tactical manoeuvres. Additional to this, a new method of army equipment is represented in the game. Warriors can be equipped with weapons, shields, put on horses or on chariots and they can be given special abilities. The player can collect abandoned weapons after battles or import powerful weapons from other cultures to build more powerful and different special units. The forces of nature are very important, because Fire, Wind etc. will effect the whole environment. The Economic part includes control of labour force, construction of cities and resources collection. Cities can be upgraded (e.g. turned to fortresses), so Sparta offers every aspect RTS gamers like.

Historical correct Timeline

Sparta is based on the history of the ancient ages and their main nations. Spartans, Persians and Egyptians are fighting for influence around Little Asia, Europe and North Africa. Historical correct timeline is 700-300 BC and the action takes place with different campaigns for all three races. Sparta represents 3D strategy in real time, where the player will have to use each nation's powers to be superior over other competitors and build up a driving and ruling faction."

Scheduled for release: 2006

Monday, October 10, 2005

Gods and Heroes - Rome Rising

Gods and Heroes - Game Information: "Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising? is set in the early days of Rome's eventual march to greatness - circa 300 B.C. Rome is a City State still developing its military and cultural strengths and beginning to feel its ambition for expansion and conquest. To fulfill its goals Rome will strive to extend her borders and influence - creating enemies both near and far.

Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising? offers vast persistent territory and hundreds of dynamically generated areas that span a wide variety of the known and Mythological worlds - offering a huge range of terrain types including cities, towns, farmland, forests, mountains, high-alpine artic regions, marshes, seashores, northern frontiers, islands, and Mythological Realms.

Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising? will offer a vast number and variety of quests - over 1,200 at launch.

Rome Quests are those offered by Senators, Officials, Generals, and citizens of Rome. As a Hero of Rome, all players will be asked to serve, expand, and protect their country.

God Quests are those offered by the gods - both allied and opposing. As a Favorite of the gods, all players will be asked to complete tasks both large and small in service of the god's wishes and demands...and whims.

Epics Quests: every Hero in Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising? is on a game-spanning Epic Quest path. On top of all that a Hero may choose to do for his country or god, he or she is destine to fulfill a path of challenges, trials, and tests that span across all levels and lead to that character's ultimate reward."

HEART OF EMPIRE: ROME : "Set for launch FEBRUARY 2006, the masters of 'world building' TYCOON games, publisher Deep Silver and developer Deep Red, are using their combined creative talents to create, stone by stone, one of the greatest ancient cities of all time.

When asked to envisage what ancient Rome would have looked like, we instantly recall such memorable scenes, as seen in the classic movies 'Spartacus', 'Ben-Hur' and most recently 'Gladiator'. The grand architecture of the Imperial Palace, beautifully ornate gardens, bustling market places and the awe inspiring grandeur of the Coliseum, are all what makes ancient Rome so memorable.

Heart of Empire: Rome, allows players to recreate the ancient city, via a 'Tycoon' style of game play. In order to bring about the majesty of Rome, Deep Red's own proprietary graphics engine was used. Over 2 years in development, the Actuality Engine allows the team to recreate Rome's hilly topography, using a system of terraces. These create a realistic looking cityscape of buildings and roads, climbing through the hills and fora (market squares) filling the valleys below.

Hundreds of buildings are able to be created within the game world, across a variety of different types. Each building and construction is a highly detailed, hand-crafted and hand-textured 3D model, based on actual Roman structures; each fulfilling functions that were an authentic part of the Roman way of life. Players will be able to construct the most basic of structures, from simple living apartments and public toilets, to the instantly recognisable public baths and temples, all the way up to grand theatres and Basilica (ornate public halls for business and law).

The Actuality Engine truly demonstrates its immense graphics power, by giving the player a true sense of scale within the Roman capital. The fully 3D engine allows the player to look out upon a vast sea of terracotta roofs, high above amongst the clouds, from an almost God like perspective. Watch barges unload their cargoes at the warehouses alongside the Tiber, or view mighty Gladiators within the Coliseum. Then with one smooth movement, glide down to street level, mingling in the hustle and bustle of street life, as Roman citizens go about their daily lives. Join a Roman couple as they shop for 'bling' in the luxury market place (its not a new concept, the Roman's were very partial to their 'bling'), watch children play in the streets, or Roman Senators study scrolls in the library (often a phrase given to Senators wives, when in fact it was a trip to the brothel)."

ALEXANDER: The Hero's Hour

"Alexander is an action role-playing game featuring breathtakingly lavish 3D graphics. The player travels to historical Greece and further important locations contemporary with the great commander. Here, he partakes in Alexander's heroic deeds, even playing the Macedon king's part - as well as those of Alexander's most trusted friends. This elite special operations unit is regularly involved in particularly challenging or difficile warfare missions. Next to improving the heroes' special abilities a well- planned approach and skillful use of the element of surprise are equally important in order to prevail in battle and complete the varied missions."

An epic game of heroes, elite warriors, brave women and, of course, Alexander:
* Fantastic, varied and highly detailed 3D graphics
* Lead your heroes on a campaign including exciting special missions
* Action-packed, demanding battles at monumental historical locations
* Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of ancient Greece
* Do battle side-by-side with Alexander the Great and his closest friends

Spartan: Total Warrior Preview

GameSpot: "...typical of many [scenarios] that we saw during our time with Spartan: Total Warrior, one of the first level scenarios tasked us with dealing with multiple objectives simultaneously. Roman soldiers were scaling the walls of Sparta and threatening to breach a gate into the city, and while defending the gate was our top priority, we also needed to ensure the safety of the king, who had decided to enter the fray on the ramparts. To stand a chance of completing either of the objectives successfully, we had to make regular trips to a second gate where Spartan reinforcements would arrive at regular intervals. The action didn't let up for a second, and the number of soldiers onscreen simultaneously was easily in excess of a hundred at times. This might be a good time for us to point out that the bodies of your enemies don't mysteriously vanish in Spartan: Total Warrior, so after slaughtering an entire army, you'll have an opportunity to step back and admire your bloody handiwork littering the battlefield.

The first level concluded with a boss battle of sorts, when the Roman army summoned Talos--a giant bronze soldier from Greek mythology who stood taller than Sparta's defensive walls. As the statue advanced toward our position, we not only had to use catapults to fire at it whenever our comrades announced that the catapults were ready for use, but we also had to use a cauldron to pour something hot and nasty onto enemy engineers as they attempted to breach the city gates. Roman soldiers were still scaling the walls at this point, so any time we weren't needed to fire catapults or man the cauldron, there was plenty going on to keep us busy."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Civilization IV to premiere October 24

"From the opening menu, the first thing you realize about Civ IV is that this is a much more colorful and livelier Civ than its predecessors, as you're greeted with a cheery melody that feels like it could have been lifted from The Lion King. That's just a hint of what you're in store for, though. You're next launched into the familiar options from previous Civ games. Select a single-player game and you must choose the various parameters of the game, from map style and size, to climate and sea level, to the civilization that you play.

More importantly, you probably want to know what civilizations made the cut. So, without further ado, you can play as the Americans, the Arabians, the Aztecs, the Chinese, the Egyptians, the English, the French, the Germans, the Greeks, the Incans, the Indians, the Japanese, the Malinese, the Mongolians, the Persians, the Romans, the Russians, or the Spanish. Approximately half these civilizations have two possible leaders, which will mainly affect the opposition you encounter, as computer-controlled civilizations will behave differently depending on which leader they get. For example, if you like to play a peaceful, defensive game of Civ, then you'd better worry if Napoleon shows up next door leading the French, because you know he's going to be eyeing your borders like a hungry wolf. Have fun!"

Some new features listed that I found particularly interesting was the addition of civic attributes such as the existence of slavery or freedom and the expanded influence of religion. Sounds like a fascinating game. Now if I only had time to play it!