Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Game Reviews

By Gavin Phipps and Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Sadly Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps's it isn't without its faults. The AI makes some perplexing moves at times and the game is prone to crashes on slower PCs.

EtherlordsII

International distributor: Nival Interactive

Local distributor: T-Times Technology

Platform/Version: Chinese for PC, late June

Fans of fantasy trading card games will not want to miss the release of Etherlords II, which has received rave reviews from gaming magazines and Web sites.

Etherlords I brought fantasy trading cards into the 3D gaming world and attracted numerous local fantasy aficionados, but complex commands and too many units to control led to poor playability, reducing its market impact. Most of these problems have been resolved in the second edition of the game, with gamers controlling a single hero in one-to-one combat.

The game mixes turn-based combat with role-playing elements, and retains the essentials of a card game in which a new turn and new game elements are introduced when a card is drawn. The card-playing aspect of Etherlord remains strong, emphasized by the random online modes, the latter able to accommodate up to eight players.

Ultimate Trainz Collection

International distributor: Auran (Australia)

Local distributor: Genius Interactive

Platform/Version: English for PC, already available

Ultimate Trainz Collection has also won high praise since its release, and its generally regarded as superior to Microsoft's Train-Sim, not only in the realism of its graphics, simulation of weather conditions and so on, it also offers multiple perspectives so that gamers can inspect their trains from various angles as they travel along the tracks. Zoom-in, zoom-out also means you are able to look at the train from a distance or inspect the smallest details of the compartments.

Trainz offers an easy-to-use interface, from which you can determine the composition of the train, control the train and even make adjustments to the tracks. There is no need to memorize complex key-stroke combinations. There are a variety of modes, so you can either create your own world or simply jump into a ready-made train and go full steam ahead. You really can learn how to drive a train in this game.

Railroad Pioneer

International distributor: JoWood (German)

Local distributor: T-Times Technology

Platform/Version: Chinese or English for PC, already available

Ultimate Trainz Collection is a simulation style game; Railroad Planner is a strategy game in the model of various empire building and railway tycoon games.

The background story is set in 1830s America; the opening up of the west is well underway and the gold rush is at its height. The atmosphere is one of adventure with the lure of unimaginable riches. As the player, you take the role of a New York tycoon seeking to build a railway empire, by fair means or foul. To achieve this dream, you can make use of 25 historical railway engines and 13 adventurers with specialist skills.

You start from nothing, then you explore the terrain, lay track, build stations, fighting off wildlife and criminals, risking everything to fulfill your mission.

The style of the game is little different from those of other empire-building games, as you use your resources to create strategic advantage and higher production, trying to achieve maximum efficiency while also protecting your interests from predators and rivals. There are plenty of devious methods you can use to get the upper hand, but success and riches are all that matter.

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