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Can you cope with a country in strife? Become a Gorby protégé in this topical strategy game.

T Ashes of Empire he General, sighing, threw himself into his pilot chair and rested his feet on the console of the flying sub. He cursed under his breath. What had made him accept the UC mission this hellhole of a continent? A moribund empire in its last throes, its nationalities on the brink of war. Strikes and social unrest in so many of the 40 provinces – and only a fortnight left to pacify the region. If he failed, nuclear missiles would be let loose setting the earth on fire. Suppressing a shudder, the General pointed his craft towards Liman, were supporters would be waiting…

Lethal Pursuit
Have you solved all the puzzles? Saved dozens of worlds? Done it all? Try Ashes of Empire! Mike Singleton’s latest strategy-cum-3D-action piece asks no less of you than to single-handedly managed the resources and defuse the explosive ethnic mixture of a vast empire torn apart by social strife.

You have to work your way from a border province to the heartland, visiting strategically important places to gather a band of supporters. With sufficient stocks and resources, and the backing of five nationalities and a strong team of engineers, administrators, the military and medics, your goal is to try to pacify a continent. A handful of weeks stand between you and the spark that will ignite nuclear holocaust. Are you up to the challenge?

Do not be daunted by the prospect of deploying endless streams of troops. You operate in a meticulously-designed scenario (aptly underlined by different movements of Stravinsky’s dramatic Firebird Suite). You are welcomed to the region by a fine layout of icons on a set of fractal maps, which are divided into six stages. Location backdrops provide specific information and hundreds of individual character portraits. Once you are familiar with the choices, the interface might be too straightforward for some players.

For convenience use the mouse to click your way through decisions via icons (each action takes a certain amount of time) and steer vehicles with your keyboard or joystick. The 3D movement and battle scenes, refined since their appearance in the two Midwinters (Midwinter I and II), add an element of immediacy to the predominantly static-screened game – a fine alternation. Movements are fluid, with that uncanny realism typical of Mike and his team (by all means, do some diving just for the fun of it!). Maps, on the other hand, do need time to load, favouring owners of RAM expansions. Still, Ashes is playable on small Amigas.

Ashes of Empire Woo, trick or pacify people into helping you. Each character you wish to recruit needs specific treatment; these are represented by a choice of eight behaviour icons. People come and go as they follow their daily routine, so be prepared to have missed the constructor general at the works by just an hour.

The Confederation of Syndicalist Republics (CSR) comprises five republics with about eight provinces each. Overlying this geopolitical grid is a finely-structured social one. Geographically scattered all over the empire, five nations with a president each vie for supremacy. Every nation is split into four ethnic factions, and has an acknowledged leader, the governor. Four professional classes with various internal ranks belong to each faction. As a General and special envoy of the world organisation the United Community, plan your steps well to juggle with the delicate situations within a narrow time limit.

You must liaise with representatives of the groups on as high a level as possible. You can befriend them by supplying vital resources specific to their situation and locations; they will eventually pledge support and gain you votes. They will help you with transport, ammunition, information on various locations (which will be displayed on your maps in increasing detail) or even help you sabotage military installations to force peace, if necessary. Occasionally, you will even gain yourself an extra day or two.

United Nations of Singleton
Ashes impresses with the sheer multitude of individual characters, landscapes and possible encounters. Unlike action orientated predecessor Flames of Freedom, cross-country chases and 3D battle scenes can be reduced to less than a third of the entire game – if the player so wishes. Of course, a large number of vehicles are available, ranging from a flying sub to a cargo plane. The General can romp around to his heart’s content above or below sea, on the ground or in the air in a host or craft.

However, the attractive presentation and comfortable interface cannot disguise the lack of depth in the gameplay itself. While the background is vastly expanded on the excellent manual, the actual in-game options seem to remain limited to talking to the right people in the right places at the right time and (al)locating resources upon demand. Encounters remain abstract and somewhat superficial. The subtleties of higher diplomacy will be missed by veteran strategists spoilt by the Koei range or by Balance of Power.

It is a challenging mix nevertheless, and it comes highly recommended to all those deterred by dry tables and endless menus, but with the mettle to solve problems under pressure. For players with a keen political interest, it is a must!
Eva Hoogh

Amiga Format, Issue 37, August 1992, p.p.78-79

Ashes of Empire
Mirage * £29.99
  • Intriguingly well-researched scenario.
  • Beautiful graphics and beginner-friendly.
  • Becomes ever so slightly repetitive once the principle that establishes the right course of action is discovered.
Verdict: 85%


Ashes of Empire logo

Mit „The Humans“ haben die Newcomer von Mirage ja gleich einen Mega-Hit abgeliefert, ob sie es bei ihrem zweiten Streich wohl etwas ruhiger angehen lassen? Kein Stück: Diese Mixtur aus Politik, Adventure, Strategie und Action hat es faustdick hinter den Bytes!

Ashes of Empire Commonwealth of Syndiclist Replubics, Winter 1993: Ein Kernkraftwerk gibt seinen Geist auf und setzt radioaktive Strahlung frei. In der Folge bricht das Chaos in der „CSR“ aus – Flüchtlingsströme ergießen sich ins kommunistische Land, Guerilla-Truppen stiften Unruhe, und zwischen den beiden Teilrepubliken Ossia und Ruzhastan kommt es zum offenen Konflikt...

Unübersehbar, daß Mike Singleton, seines Zeichens Programmierer von „Midwinter“ den Zerfall der UdSSR als Hintergrundszenario seines neuesten Epos im Auge hatte. Der Spieler schlüpft nun in die Rolle des großen Retters und Friedensstifters (quasi eine Mischung aus Gorbachov und Jelzin), der die Streithähne vereinen und sich schließlich selbst an die Spitze der Gesamtregierung setzen soll. Einen Großteil seiner Zeit verbringt man daher mit dem Abklappern der insgesamt fünf Republiken, die je acht Provinzen bestehen. Das kann man via „Air Lift“ (so eine Art Teleporter), mit seinem futuristischen „Fighter“-Flugi, per U-Boot und sogar zu Fuß erledigen.

Ashes of Empire Die Reisen durch die Vektorgrafik-Landschaften laufen eher actionmäßig ab, inklusive Beballern feindlicher Panzer oder Flugzeuge, erst am Zielort wird’s wieder strategischer: Die Städte beherbergen eine Reihe von wichtigen Einrichtungen wie Krankenhäuser, Kernkraftwerke oder Kasernen, die ihrerseits eine Reihe von wichtigen Führungspersönlichkeiten beherbergen. Durch Anklicken der entsprechenden Icons müssen die Leute (unter Zeitdruck, die Geschichte geht unaufhaltsam weiter!) bezirzt, bestochen, rekrutiert, befehligt oder überredet werden. Umgekehrt haben sie aber auch einiges anzubieten; Informationen etwa, interessante Kontaktpersonen oder Stimmen für die kommende Wahl.

Soweit mal das nackte Handlungsskelett von Ashes of Empire - darüberhinaus gibt’s tonnenweise Details, Menüs, Statistiken, kleine Teilaufgaben und Handlungsmöglichkeiten. So laufen z.B. auf dem 3,5 Mio qm großen Spielgebiet über zehntausend Charaktere herum, darunter allein 665 der besagten Führungspersönlichkeiten. Man kann Nichtangriffspakte schließen oder in Rambo-Manier einen begrenzten Atomschlag führen, die Entmilitarisierung einzelner Gebiete vorantreiben, die Infrastruktur (Straßen- und Telefonnetz etc.) verbessern oder überhaupt erst aufbauen. Kurzum, an Komplexität herrscht kein Mangel, und auch die Präsentation weiß zu gefallen: Die beeindruckende Grafik kann mit tollen Zoom-Effekten aufwarten, der Sound mit klassischer Musik, Sprachausgabe und Effekten. Dazu kommt eine durchdachte und pflegeleichte Maus/Icon-Steuerung – dieses Game wird also nicht bloß die CSR im Sturm erobern! (Manfred Kleimann)

Amiga Joker, September 1992, p.72

Der Amiga Joker meint:
"Ashes of Empire ist eine rasante Mischung aus Politik, Strategie und Abenteuer!"

amiga joker
Ashes of Empire
Grafik: 80%
Sound: 79%
Handhabung: 77%
Spielidee: 82%
Dauerspaß: 80%
Preis/Leistung: 75%

Red. Urteil: 80%
Für Fortgeschrittene
Preis: ca 119,- dm
Hersteller: Digital Image/Mirage
Genre: Mixtur

Spezialität: 1MB nötig, HD-Installation möglich. Zweitlaufwerk wird unterstützt, komplett in deutsch.



Ashes of Empire logo

Would-be NATO commander, Steve Merrett, is here to pick up the pieces in Mirage’s massive adventure...

ASHES TO ASHES
Ashes of Empire Ashes Of Empire draws its name from the chaos currently reigning within its scenario. Set within a sprawling area of five collapsed republics, as a NATO Commander you have been given the responsibility of restoring peace and stability to this turbulent land. However, the populace of each area must be cajoled into believing your cause, and with only a handful of armies at your disposal your best bet is to start in a small village and expand from there.

RECRUITMENT DRIVE
As can be expected, Ashes is every bit as technically stunning as we have come to expect from the Maelstrom stable, and utilises all the best in vectors and fractals to depict its play areas and maps. As impressive as these look, though, it is the complex gameplay which makes the game so different. Within each of the republics, a hierarchy of Presidents and Governors exists. These, and their assorted menial nurses and engineers, prove to be the key to your efforts and must be recruited to join your team. This is effected via a rather simplistic icon-based system, and as your power grows, so will your ability to recruit the more powerful leaders at the top of the hierarchy. However, initially, you must seduce, trick, or even bash would-be allies into submissions. As dull as this sounds, from here your army and options grow, and rescuing the collapsed Nations from themselves can begin. In addition, further areas can be recruited by supplying food or desperately needed objects. The trouble is that, with its very basic communication system and bartering methods, this section is at odds with the complex and deep gameplay – somehow it just does not seem right.

Ashes of Empire GETTING AROUND
Moving between areas and towns can either be via an airlift (supplies permitting) or by using one of the twenty vehicles the game has on offer. These range from weird airships to submarines, and allow the player to roam all over the countryside. They are all armed too, just in case any renegade factions decide to take a pop at you. Also, it is noticeable that Maelstrom have added sprites to their 3D routines, and the forests which are dotted around the play area are all shown in their full bushy glory, adding more depth to the play field.

There is so much to see and do in Ashes Of Empire that it is hard not to be impressed. If you cut your teeth in Midwinter, then this is your next logical step. Personally, I think that Ashes far outstrips Maelstrom’s previous games in terms of game task and content, but I cannot help feeling a revised appearance for the 3D scenes would have made it even better. As good as the 3D sections are, it tends to weaken the excellent overall strategy bent – as does the character interaction sequences. However, despite these weak links, Ashes Of Empire is another deserved hit for Mike Singleton’s Maelstrom and an excellent release from newcomers Mirage.

CU Amiga, July 1992, p.71

GETTING TO GRIPS Such is the enormity of Ashes’ task, that it is best to break the gameplay into small batches, and solve them individually. Initially, this involves recruiting a few more members and adding a few valuable resources to your limited supplies. This is effected by using either charm, bribery or brute force on the people you meet, before amassing enough recruits to start tempting the all-powerful Presidents and other leaders to your cause. From here, you can then intensify your efforts across a wider range, and – nuclear war permitting – the five republics may be put back on an even keel.

buyers guide
release date:
genre:
team:
controls:
number of disks:
number of players:
hard disk:
memory:
 
July 1992
Adventure
Maelstrom
Mouse, joystick
3
1
Yes
Any machine

 

MIRAGE £34.99
Looks familiar, but this is stunning stuff...
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
79%
81%
89%
82%
OVERALL 81%