User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Balance of Power

MobyRank MobyScore
Macintosh
...
3.7
Apple II
...
...
PC-88
...
4.0
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Description

The year is 1986. You take on the role of the US President or the Russian General Secretary. You have the full industrial capacity, covert forces, and military might of your country at your command. Your job? To make your country the world's most powerful and prestigious over the course of your eight years in office. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It would be if the other guy didn't have his finger poised over a red button that could wipe out the world!

You must use diplomacy, make treaties, issue risky, covert CIA or KGB actions, or riskier, direct military intervention to prop up third world countries or help their insurgents and win them to your governmental philosophy: Capitalism or Communism. The world is a big place... and the other guy could start a nuclear war over a country as tiny as Tunisia. This game is the ultimate Cold War simulation. Every action requires careful analysis and the ability to judge your opponent (computer or human) and his reaction. The game features 62 countries, each carefully researched with up to date (as of 1985) information regarding their government, demographics, resources, etc.

Screenshots

Balance of Power Amiga Starting a new game
Balance of Power MSX In war, there are no winners
Balance of Power DOS The game runs on top of a Windows 1.01 'Run Time' version
Balance of Power DOS Title screen (CGA)

Alternate Titles

  • "Geopolitics in the nuclear age." -- Subtitle

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

They don't make 'em like this anymore... Cold War, anyone? DOS Raphael (1160)

The Press Says

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Atari ST Oct, 1988 950 out of 1000 95
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Amiga Dec, 1987 950 out of 1000 95
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Amiga Oct, 1988 950 out of 1000 95
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Atari ST Dec, 1987 950 out of 1000 95
Tilt Atari ST Jun, 1987 18 out of 20 90
Happy Computer Atari ST 1986 82 out of 100 82
Tilt Macintosh May, 1987 16 out of 20 80
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Macintosh Jun, 1991 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Tilt Amiga May, 1987 14 out of 20 70
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) Amiga Mar, 1987 7.8 out of 12 65

Forums

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Trivia

Credits

Chris Crawford in the Acknowledgements section:
I conceived, designed, programmed, developed, and tested this game. Yet, no such project is truly single-handed; every designer owes a debt of gratitude to a large number of people who lent him their advice, their assistance, and their sympathy.
He credits his wife, Kathy, for consulting him about all "big decisions" (he mentions helping with the images and posing for the pic of an anti-nuke protester).

Difficulty

This game was probably one of the first to include a "Nightmare" level.

Manual

The manual actually contained a bibliography... how many games today can claim that?

Subversive party

For each country in the game, there's a "subversive" party/organization listed for it. For the United States, it was "Democrats".

Windows

This was one of the earliest Windows-only games. You'll notice how similar the game is to the Mac interface (and you'll know why Apple sued Microsoft over the similarity!). It came with a Windows "Run Time" version for users without Windows/286 so they could just play the game.

Awards

  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
    • March 1991 (issue #42) - Included in the list Greatest Games of all Time in category Strategy Games (editorial staff choice)
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #78 in the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #11 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (blowing up Earth)
Information also contributed by Kasey Chang and PCGamer77

Related Web Sites

  • Chris Crawford (biography of Chris Crawford, creator of Balance of Power, its sequel, and many other games. Written by Chris himself!)
Contributed to by PCGamer77 (3026), Raphael (1160), Kabushi (125839), Terok Nor (19005), Игги Друге (43863) and Belboz (6516)