Written by  :  Trixter (9128)
Written on  :  Mar 05, 1999
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars

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AAOW was way ahead of its time.

The Good

The Ancient Art of War was a breakthrough product that introduced several forward-thinking game elements that still exist in today's products. As a real-time strategy game, you couldn't just sit on your laurels and think for hours; the enemy was moving and thinking at the same time you were. As a result, the faster you moved at thinking and manipulating your batallions, the better a chance you stood against the computer.

AAOW also included a playfield editor. This extended the playability infinitely, since you could introduce new battlefields to the computer opponents if you'd mastered them all. You can even write a textual description of your scenario--which is printed on on-screen "parchment"--and give your scenarios to friends.

The graphics in AAOW are effective, and there's a lot of them. Zooming in on a battle to control your troops reveals several nicely-drawn backgrounds.

Finally, there are eight computer opponents, all modeled after real-life people like Napolean, Sun Tzu, Geronimo, etc. Each has a different style of playing.

The Bad

Sun Tzu, the ancient author of the book on which this game is based, is an incredibly tough opponent. (You'd assume this, of course, since he "wrote the book on war.") Also, there could have been more campaigns on disk; less than 20 are supplied, which leaves you craving more.

The Bottom Line

Absorbing, simple to understand, clever, and engaging, The Ancient Art of War is a "must have" experience for any serious wargamer.