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Set in the period of the Middle Ages when Europe had to suffer all kinds of invasions, Hammer of the Gods places you in charge of a Viking's Clan. As a Viking worthy of his name, you must invade countries, plunder cities and fight your enemies. However, Hammer of the Gods is not simply a move and fight game with no other goal than defeat your opponents, it is also a game with quests and diplomacy.
When you start the game, different choices are offered. You must decide between a historic or randomly generated map, choose among several levels of difficulty ranging from easy to impossible or customize the difficulty yourself and finally, set up the game length. This last choice will let you decide between a tutorial, a short mode where you must complete twenty quests to win, the full length where only completion of Odin's final quest will achieve victory and Play-By-Email short and full length.
Four races are present in the game: the Humans, the Elves, the Trolls and the Dwarves. In order to complete Odin's final quest, each race has victory conditions. The Humans must possess magic weapons, the Elves must control a fixed percentage of the population, the Trolls must control a large army and the Dwarves must own a large amount of gold.
Hammer of the Gods allows up to four players on a network, two players with a serial link or Play-By-Email and one player against three artificial adversaries.
As the game is turn-based, each turn is divided in sequences of play. You may receive messages from other players or reports about attacks, choose the next quest (after one is completed), move units and fight, send messages to establish diplomatic relations, resolve attacks by garrisons from nearby enemy castles, and finally be informed when a quest has been completed. At this point, you have reached your turn's end and you must wait your turn to continue.
Diplomacy will allow you to establish treaties for peace and trade. You can suggest peace, declare neutrality or war, and concerning the economy, you can offer limited, partial or full trade. If you feel generous or just want to please another player, you might want to give a gift such as gold, map information, magic spells or items, or a daughter. Another possibility is to barter with your opponents. For example, giving gold, declaring war to another player or offering your daughter can help to sweeten a deal.
During exploration phases, you must move your units on a map. This map will unveil as you discover new territories, but what is new in this map is that it shows undiscovered areas as Vikings of this time thought the world was. On the map, uncharted lands will appear in brown and will sometimes show locations such as monasteries and towns. It indicates that in this particular direction, one should find a monastery or a city.
Units are usually made of Viking archers and swordsmen as you can recruit them in your town. Depending which race you chose at the beginning, other units will be available such as Berserkers for Humans, Elven archers for Elves, Dwarves for Dwarves and Trolls for Trolls. There are also heroes for each party and other special units you will receive when completing a quest.
Quests will vary from easy to tough ones. The easiest will be to give one of your daughter in marriage to a god or find and raid a monastery. For more powerful gods, you must fight skeletons, giants and even a dragon or conquer several cities. Rewards are important as they provide you with magical weapons or spells, special ships and powerful creatures like wizards, drakes and giants.
The graphics for the combat sequences are nice and well animated, but as the game takes several hours to complete, it could be tedious for the player to control each combat. Fortunately, there is an automatic option that takes control of your characters for you and the speed can be adapted.
Hammer of the Gods is first of all, a strategy game. It might be too simple and too repetitive for hard core strategy gamers but it will surely appeal to all the gamers with quality of SVGA graphics and remarkable CD music.
New World Computing Inc., GRAPHICS ------------------ 85% P.O. BOX 4302, SOUND ------------------ 88% Hollywood, CA 90078. MUSIC ------------------ 90% Tel: 818-889-5600 GAMEPLAY ------------------ 85% INTEREST ------------------ 90% OVERALL ------------------ 87%
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