Written by  :  Simon Haller (17)
Written on  :  Apr 25, 2004
Platform  :  DOS

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Empire was where it all began

The Good

I was a would-be PC programmer with Turbo Pascal and an IBM AT with an EGA monitor and Empire was the first computer game which played on its screen. Empire was amazing. Many copies of it could fit on a single diskette, and it was remarkably stable. This version did not support a mouse, but you could keep up to three players very busy. Virtually the entire genre of turn based strategy games began here, with the "Planetary Task Manual" (a photo copy of which was required to answer the security questions) :).

In our best game, my opponent used the "Blob" strategy, a single giant, growing mass of armies and cruisers. On the other side, I used the Carrier Task force strategy. (planes could not fly over ships...nothing could pass through each other, there was absolutely no stacking).

The Combined Forces ate up the blob.

The maps were the best graphics I'd seen up to that time.

The Bad

Ultimately, Empire had no other tricks it could play. It was already using everything it could...so...it couldn't restrain unit production. The AI was so 1987. It just came at you in eternal strings of units separated by their build times. The worst flaw was that it was still so simple compared to say, Civilization I, which was still 4 years away. We lost interest in Empire when we saw Warlords I, which though proving as difficult to finish, was far more complex.

The Bottom Line

I describe this as it described itself--"The Wargame of the Century". I'm happy to say I still have it. In addition to being a seminal computer game, this was one of the earlier DOS applications which employed computer graphics rather than text mode. On machines which went but 4mhz, Empire played quickly, and maintained as much data as I'd ever seen my machine put through.