Have you ever switched on the national news and watched the reports? You know, not the reports about the Royal Family and famous celebs, but the reports on wars, death, destruction, refugees, hostages, famine and so on. Have you then thought to yourself that the whole world must be going completely mad, because I know I have.
After more than 40 years of global confrontation between East and West, the Cold War ends. The Iron Curtain is now suffering from terminal rust, the Eastern Bloc has crumbled, the Berlin Wall has been torn down and East and West Germany has re-united.
In countries such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgeria, East Germany and Romania, the communist regimes have lost their grip on power. With the Cold War now over things should be getting better, but they're not. Nationalism begins to assert itself again throughout Eastern Europe and beyond.
Civil war breaks out in Yugoslavia, as Slovenia and then Croatia declare independence and defy the attempts of the Serban-
In the CIS there is more conflict - this time it's between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Plus in Nargony-
More and more innocent people are made homeless and helpless by the constant barrage of war, so they take to the roads of Europe as refugees. Probably the most worrying thing is that nobody actually knows who should control the nuclear weapons of the old USSR. All the time, civil unrest and ethnic tension continues to rise.
What we really need is someone to come and bring peace to the world. Sounds pretty impossible, doesn't it? Well, here comes Ashes of Empire by Mirage and even though peace will probably never be worldwide you can at least play out the fantasy in the game.
In Ashes of Empire, you play a major part in the peace process. All you have to do is bring peace and harmony to the entire CSR, a vast, multi-
The creator of the game is a geezer who goes by the name of Mike Singleton who was responsible for both the Midwinter games.
To achieve peace in the CSR, you have to pacify each of the five republics contained in the CSR - Ossia, Ruzakhstan, Belokraine, Modenia and Servonia. Each republic has one capital province and up to eight other provinces within its borders. There are two ways to pacify a republic - either pacify the capital province and at least two other provinces in the republic, or pacify all the provinces in the republic except the capital.
Pacifying a province is not an easy task - you must successfully complete four different United Community programmes in the province.
The programmes are the UC Building, Demolition, Pacification and Ethnic Harmony, and the tasks vary from province to province.
What this basically means is that in each province you have to construct buildings to meet the urgent needs of the population (hospitals and so on), demolish buildings that are a threat, eliminate a certain number of CSR military units (tanks and so on) and get the support of different ethnic groups.
Right, before I get any further with this review, let me explain something. Ashes of Empire is a very big game with loads and loads of features.
In fact it's got far too many to put in this review, and to be completely honest at first it looks very complicated, but - and this is a very nice but - it's got a lovely easy to read manual and video on how to play the game.
After reading the manual and watching the video you'll know everything you need to know, thus making it a lot easier on the old brain cells.
As well as being big (as in packed with loads of features) it's also big as in playing area. You can travel all over the CSR. There are, in fact, 2.8 million square miles to travel in.
Now that's a lot of land and you're not going to get very far if you use your legs, so at your disposal there is a whole plethora of vehicles to use.
You can travel in either air, sea (under and over water) or land. Vehicles range from cargo planes to bombers to barges to mini-
Each vehicle is packed with missiles and a nice big cannon or gun, so that should please some of our more violent readers. Oh and you can also walk and run about, but you don't tend to do that very often.
During your mission you will meet numerous people, both ordinary citizens and professional personnel. There are in fact over 6,000 characters in the game, so you'll meet one sooner rather than later.
Every single building and installation in the CSR has an ordinary citizen in charge of it. What you've got to do is try and recruit the citizen and if you manage to do so you will gain control of the building and its additional resources.
As well as ordinary citizens, there are 665 professional personnel who you can recruit. Unlike the ordinary citizens, the professional move from town to town and are a lot harder to track down. Recruits can, err, be recruited either by bartering or by persuading them to contribute to your cause. Bartering will cost you resources, but loses you no time, whereas conversation loses you time, but doesn't cost you any resources.
Remember, every citizen has his/her own distinct personality, so every time you meet someone new you have to think about what you're going to do. Deciding to do the wrong thing could be disastrous!
Of course, the game just doesn't involve flying around and chatting to people - there's much more to it than that - but there just isn't the space in Gamer to explain it all.
If you liked Mike Singleton's Midwinter games then you are guaranteed to fall head over heels in love with Ashes of Empire. The surprising thing is that it actually feels as if you are trying to bring peace to a whole nation and if you don't succeed then you feel really guilty.
You start walking around babbling thing like "Oh no all those refugees and I've condemned them to a life of starvation and misery and it's all my fault" and then when the news comes on the television and you see pictures of civil wars you start crying buckets.
All this emotion is due to the fact that the game is so damn realistic, especially when you consider the status of places like Yugoslavia and how close its situation is to the scenario in Ashes of Empire.
I can't really think of a major bad point, but this type of game might not appeal toa lot of games
Graphically Ashes is quite impressive, especially the map and the people's faces. The action bit is very similar to the graphics used in Midwinter, but that's a good point and not a bad one.
There is a good soundtrack which plays constantly in the background, but after a few hours it could get on your nerves and you might have to reach for the volume switch.
The game will take you ages and ages to complete simply because it is so huge. It's had a lot of effort put into it and it shows. Even though I'm not really a fan of this type of game I would heartily recommend this to anyone.
Peace. I'm outta here.