Steel Empire logo

Millennium * £29.99

A laudable attempt to combine strategy war-gaming with arcade action. It pitches you against both human and computer players, offering a variety of tactics and strategies for global domination. Your conquest commences with a large map, which you attempt to spread yourself around. This section of the game sets up combat which inevitably follows.

Once your robot armies are thrown together in combat, it's down to your arcade skills with a plane-view scrolling shoot-em-up. Shoot them first and you win the territory; fluff it and you've lost a robot-team.

And that's it, until someone (or something) dominates the whole landscape. War-gamers will hate it because of the arcade element; arcade-junkies will find the strategy sections boring.

Der Wrger von Wolfenbttl

Steel Empire logo

Sapperlot, auf der Welt Orion in der Gegend von Andromeda ist schier der Teufel los! Das behaupten jedenfalls Milleniums Militärexperten, und die müssen's ja wissen.

Tatsächlich rangeln in ihren neuen Strategical zwei bis fünf menschliche oder digitale Galakto-Mächte darum, wer draußen ins All das Sagen hat. Uns soll's recht sein, also stürzen wir uns in die Schlacht.

Doch halt, vorläufig wird noch nicht geschlachtet, zunächst hat nämlich jeder der beteiligten Futuro-Metzger nur eines der insgesamt 72 Länder unter seinem Messer.

Auf einer recht hübschen und sauber scrollbaren Landkarte wird also Runde um Runde das besetzte Gebiet befestigt und mit Hilfe von Mech-ähnlichen Kampf-Androiden (die erst gebaut werden müssen) neues Territorium erobert. Dank allerlei Optionen spielt sich das gar nicht übel, man darf halt nie die Zauberformel aus den Augen verlieren: Land bringt Geld, Geld bringt Androiden, mehr Geld bringt mehr oder bessere Androiden.

Kommt es schließlich zur Ballerei, errechnet der Compi das Ergebnis, auf Wunsch kann man in einer 2D Kampfsequenz auch eigenhändig zum Laser greifen. Freilich ist hier weder die Handhabung (Maus: kreisch! Stick: naja) noch die Optik sonderlich überzeugend.

Rein optisch darf man auch im bequem zu steuernden Strategieteil keine Offenbarungen erwarten, das gleiche gilt für Titelsound und FX. Und daß bei den deutschen Screentexten konsequent alle Umlaute ausgelassen wurden, ist fast schon komisch - oder könnt Ihr einen Gegner ernstnehmen, der sich "General Wrger" nennt? Etwas mehr Sorgfalt, und man hätte das ganze Spiel ernster nehmen können. (jn)

Steel Empire logo

Classy strategy, done the action way.

Review this perplexingly complicated strategy game by tomorrow," the enclosed letter callously threatened. It's 9:37 pm. "Great," I thought, "I'm surprised they didn't deliberately send me only half the instructions."

The planet Orion is where we're off to, a planet which you, and up to four other computer or human players, are out to individually conquer. This scrolllable planet is divided up into individual countries with each player starting in a separate one, possibly casting up distant memories of some kind of war game.

For your first few turns, the general game strategy will consist of bulding a factory, coming up with a cyborg or two, and then moving these cyborgs to take over and set up government in adjacent countries.

Take the next few turns to increase your empire - as evyrehing costs money ensure to take over some cities to reap in extra cash, and also a few rural countries where you can start up new factories to build up your cyborg force ready to attack. Up to this point there will be little chance that you'll have been attacked by the opposition so perhaps now would be a good time for you to make an attack.

Unless 'Fog of War' mode is previously turned off, Steel Empire doesn't let you see any off the enemy icons - that's to say their factories, cyborgs, or defences - on your turn, so unless you have an extremely good memory you can't just jump on in there and attack. A spy will have to be sent in first. If there are no enemy cyborgs about then you can take over a country simply by moving one of yours in, else you'll have to fight it out head to head against your opponent.

To be brief, the battle sequences take the form of a fight to the death match via a split screen scrolling overhead view arrangement with your cyborgs at one end, the enemy's at the other and appropriate scenery in between. The basic strategy involves moving forward and shooting the enemy by various means - you move one cyborg at a time whilst the others move and shoot by themselves.

Although this may seem like a good idea, it's quite possible to win or lose without personally actually doing anything - I have played games where you've felt more involved in the action.

Well, even though size isn't strictly important, that's still about the size of it. The graphics are really what you'd come to expect of this sort of thing - pretty boring but adequate - and the sound is a bit rubbish too, including some highly dubious Mega lo Mania-style speech samples.

The gameplay is a bit more tricky to voice opinion on however. The blend of strategy and shoot-'em-up work well creating what initially seems like a reasonably enjoyable Amiga full price game. But the problem is that you get to see everything on your first go - the one planet to conquer, the five shoot-'em-up terrains - so the excitement of exploration is completely lost.

Even though it will take a long time to become a good player, Mr and Mrs Bored may well be round for tea in the meanwhile, if you know what I mean.

The split-screen-combat part of Steel Empire.
Steel Empire
  1. The agile computer droid blasts its way through the snow landscape.
  2. My 'Herculues' droid trundles along.
  3. The very essential long range scanner.
  4. Droid number two's (mine, actually) status panel, showing weapons, shields etc.

Steel Empire logo

"Steel Empire? I can't do that - it's a software house, how am I going to get it in my swag bag?" protested Toby 'Doctor' Finaly. So we had him fitted with a hearing aid and then pointed him at Millennium's new strategy/arcade title.

Cybernetics, eh? Now there lies some dodgy ground. Therea re people who build cranes out of Technic-Lego and drone on about how they're artificially intelligent, and then there are scientists. They simply carve up monkeys, try to turn them into cyborgs, realise they can't, and then come to some kind of 'scientific conclusion (like "if you take to an anthropoid with a chainsaw, it dies").

This new strategy/arcade blend from Millennium has nothing to do with plastic building bricks, but quite a lot to do with robots. This is fortunate, because the aim of the game is to conquer a world and, as most commanders will tell you, small yellow cuboids have a bit of difficulty handling heavy artillery. Cyborgs, however, do not - they tend to have uncannily large weapons uilt into various appendages. This makes them ideal fighting machines, but not so good at parties:

Guest: Hello, how do you do?
Cyborg: Fine, thanks - pleased to meet you.
(They shake hands)
Guest: I say, you've accidentally activated your heat-ray and severed my arm.
Cyborg: Oops.

However, you're not going to be having any parties - this game's about all-out warfare. You start with a homeland and some dosh in the bank, and using these raw materials you must erect factories which can create robots.

You can also build extensions to the factories, which enhance their performance, but initially funds are limited, so your primary objective is to get some droids up and running. There are nine different types to choose from, ranging from big and powerful to small and crap. This is your workforce - they'll do all your dirty-work from spying on cities to destroying whole countries.

The thing is, you're not alone. There are other magalomaniacs (played by either the computer or your chums) who also own factories. If a conflict occurs, you can grab your joystick, and indulge in a bit of action (or pour yourself another shandy and let the computer do it for you). It's a sort of futuristic Dragon's Breath, really. Why don't you read on to see how similar it is? (Because I'm a lazy git. Reader's Voice.) Oh.

Amiga reviewToby: The middle ground between strategy games and arcade games has always been something of a no man's land. There have been many attempts but no memorable successes - the arcade element is generally too tame for die-hard shoot 'em up freaks, and the brain-taxing part too easy for war gamers.

But I was pleasantly surprised by this game. The introduction displays the blueprints of the numerous cyborgs, and though once you've seen it you won't want to again. It's pretty good the first time round. Into the game proper and you're confronted with an option screen - you can choose to either play the full game, the arcade sections or just the strategy bit.

Te best way to review this is to treat each section totally separately. Let's start with the shoot 'em up bit - it's skill. You start at the opposite end of a landscape to your opponent and it's a mad dash to find him and blow him away. It's neat against the computer, but when you've got a human opponent there's nothing like it.

Sharp graphics, beefy sound, smooth scrolling - a total thumbs up. But what about the strategy half? Er... it's a bit disappointing after the arcade game. Still, I was hooked to my Amiga for a few hours, if only to hear the smart in-game speech.

It's not really fair to mark it solely on the merits of the shooty section or just on the 'thinky' part, so I'll give it some sort of average - and then bang it up a bit, simply because the shooter's so good.Stop