Written by  :  Ummagumma (79)
Written on  :  Nov 10, 2001
Platform  :  DOS

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Another Molyneux classic

The Good

Powermonger was a seminal event for any computer gamer at the time, with the game making its first appearance on the Amiga and then ported to the PC. It further cemented Peter Molyneux's position as a game programmer to be reckoned with, coming soon after his triumph with Populace. Here though, the player is demoted from all-controlling God to bloodthirsty general, tasked with taking over a huge map one chunk at a time with little more than a small platoon to start with. The graphics were nothing short of spectacular at the time, sporting a 3D landscape that you could rotate and zoom in and out. The army units were rendered in blah 2-D, but were given life in that limited palette nonetheless. Human touches like your unit huddled around a fire or hungrily decending on a helpless sheep for food gave life to the little pixelated blobs. Powermonger also continued Molyneux's trademark of immersive sound, with your huddled army mumbling around that crackling fire, the blatting of the sheep, or the clash and cry of raging battle. It also sported online multiplayer support, something of a rarity at the beginning of the 90's.

The Bad

The endlessly repeating gameplay. All that was required was to run as fast as you can to the various villages on the map and attack with a medium posture, ensuring maximum recruitment for your army. Once you were sporting 50 or so peeps then it was time to take out the other guys. Then do it over and over and over and over and over and over again across a map than spanned something like 4 full screens. Plus it suffered from icon creep, cluttering up the screen with a tonne of confusing buttons to press. This would be something that would haunt Molyneux until he eventually abolished icons in his magnum opus, Black & White.

The Bottom Line

A definite hall-of-famer, which sadly seems underrated and forgotten by many gamers. A real-time old-timer that paved the way for the Starcrafts and Command & Conquers of today.