For some of us, owning the world is just not enough. What we want is the whole galaxy. Fortunately for the rest of the galaxy, none of us will ever to be able to achieve our ambition for real so we have to content ourselves with computer simulations.
Imperium is one such simulation, allowing a player to take command of an imaginary galactic power based on a planet called Earth (now there's someone using their imagination) and, by skilful use of diplomacy, economics and military might, conquer and populate a small galaxy containing around 30 star systems.
Then again, if you're the more passive type and don't go in for this glory lark you can always try to win by just keeping your empire going and survive as leader for 1,000 years. How long! Yup, 1,000 years. Achieving that, though, will still require careful juggling of your empire and skilful manipulation of the other galactic inhabitants - the aliens.
Several other computer-
The game is completely menu-
So what keeps you playing? Why not just skip a number of years and outlast the game? For a start, no-one lives for 1,000 years without taking steady quantities of the life-
Of course, you first have to find the stuff, so you have to start thinking about moving beyond your own star system. And this is where you come to the crux of the game - economics. Money has to be generated through developing your planets, producing commodities (over 20 of them) which you can use to build ships or use to trade with the aliens. You can also buy things you can't produce from the aliens and to make things interesting you can set import and export taxes, put trade embargoes on certain items and all manner of other things.
Colonising other planets not only expands your empire, but also makes you popular with the electorate who go to the polls every 50 years to decide on the next leader (if it's not you, then it's game over). And as all good politicians know, money talks. A good deal of cash has to be stored as the years go past which can be called upon when you come to campaign for re-election.
There are loads of planets to discover and dealing with the aliens can be a very tricky business. Keep things ticking over, let the computer handle the economics and/or the diplomacy to start with while you concentrate on the military side of things until you become familiar with the game and gradually start taking things over yourself once you understand just how different things affect the game.
Don't be afraid to experiment, push taxes way up and see how it affects things, start censoring the press and see how it affects your popularity. Play around and after a few games you may find you have just the sort of qualities a galactic leader needs. You may even start calling yourself Emperor Ming...
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
There are a few sound effects, usually short bursts of music, which are fine but not special. The graphics of the game are also quite reasonable. Bear in mind that this is not meant to be a graphic stunner; it's a thinking person's game. That said, all the menus are nicely presented and are very clear.
This is the game's strong point. It takes a long while to play a single game and it also requires a lot of concentration, but the nature of the game is such that it's easy to get caught up in the action and spend many an hour at the keyboard without getting bored. It's by no means the first of its type, but it has a lot more depth than some similar games.
Imperium is very well put together and the whole game interlinks with itself intricately, which makes it great fun to play. The aliens are an intelligent bunch, which makes for good interacting opportunities, and it's a game that also rewards smart thinking and punishes rash or ill thought out actions. Definitely a game for the sole player who likes reams of statistics to ponder over and who likes to juggle limited resources making them work to their best advantage.
Andy 'Not tonight Josephine, I've got an empire to run' Smith