Blood and Iron and Greed, Oh My! Review

IMPERIALISM Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 2

Publisher

  • SSI

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

Blood and Iron and Greed, Oh My!

This is a complicated game. Imperialism by SSI intends to simulate, as near

as possible, the general managing of a 19th century European-type nation. The player

has two choices in this regard, to either allow the game to construct a fictional

world with random countries, or to choose pre-existing scenarios of Great Power

Europe at three points in the 1800’s. Play is turn-based, with each turn

encompassing a specific season of the year, from Spring to Winter.

One’s goal is simply to

become the dominant power on the globe, through a majority vote of the continent’s

Council of Governors, each of which controls a specific province of a certain

country. The way to do this is to use your nation to exert political control

over as many provinces as possible, and that can be done by economic domination

or by military conquest.

However, before you can begin to act offensively, you must insure that

everything at home is okay. Otherwise, your economy will go under and the bank

president will foreclose on your national assets and appoint his nephew as head of the

country. Trust me, this is how I lost the scenario I was working on. As a

responsible and omnipotent leader, you are in charge of not only diplomacy, but also

trade, and the construction of new industries and networks of communications.

The game map where it all happens is exquisite. Cities and major landforms

are rendered both beautifully and realistically. One can use the mouse cursor and

scan across Europe from Lisbon to Moscow, finding the major rivers, mountain ranges,

and plains. Areas of production, such as ranches, mines, farms, and depots are also

drawn in, but are done to seem not so much like specific game units, but elements of

the world in which they are in.

To exploit these resources, each nation has manpower units that it can place in

these areas and either mine for gold, raise cattle, harvest agricultural products, or

build railroad tracks. Each province is also garrisoned by militia and occasionally

army units that can be mobilized and sent on foreign expeditions. All of these

functions are point-and-click capable, with pop-up menus that give a variety of

choices and preferences as to the selected unit’s capabilities.

After resources have been mobilized, the next step is to allocate on the

trade market what products will be sold or bought from the rest of the continent.

With enough money, you can invest in new technologies or upgrade the existing

industry to produce more, and thus gain more profits. These can be invested, then,

into the acquisition of foreign property, overseas colonies, or a large army that

can conquer your imperial opponents.

This game can be really fun on a military level. Any army can raid and

capture any country’s province at any point, so long as a declaration of war has been

made, and the invading army is strong enough to triumph. For instance, I was playing

Russia in the 1820 scenario. Mobilizing my army, I quickly declared war on the

doddering old Ottoman Empire and invaded through Turkish Moldavia. Since the

campaigns are not really tests of military strategy (one can choose to let the game

fight the one battle per province), you can literally roll right through a nation.

It was like football; here’s Russia with the ball, she charges right through the

Turkish line and keeps going, she’s at the Moldavia, the Bukovina, Bucharest,

Bulgaria, Salonika, TOUCHDOWN! Constantinople!!

However, this is not a

military game, it is one that relies almost more on economics and diplomacy

than anything else. Alliances should be used, as well as non-aggression pacts

and embassies. As was said before, this is a complicated game. There are plenty

of warnings if something goes wrong, but the most minor setback can snowball,

especially if an ally decides to launch a surprise attack during a time when

the economy is going through a recession and it is impossible to purchase a

strong army or navy.

I want to stay away from saying that this game is too big or too detailed.

Those things only add to the overall beauty of the game, but any players should be

warned, this is not a quick diplomacy game of conquest and colonies, nor is it a

Civilization rip-off. Its only drawback is the fact that you simply cannot focus

solely on one, favorite aspect of the game to the detriment of the others. Even if one fancies

his or herself the next Bismarck, the player still needs to be Adam Smith as well.

Likewise, you cannot simply win by building up your nation into the most prosperous country

on the planet. You still need a strong and aggressive foreign policy.

Nevertheless, I personally would have liked to see a function that allows the player

to let the computer manage a few things, at very least the product table in the world

trade market. There is also no scenario editor, which might have been a welcome

addition.

The only other drawback is the tactical battle sequence. This is not

particularly easy or realistic, simply being a simulation of one battle for one

province. It looks more like a paintball tournament at a local park than a 19th

century battle, but then again, it seems to be far from the overall scope of the

game. Turn the sequence off, and the game should not lose any of its appeal.

Otherwise, this remains a rather enjoyable game from SSI, though it may not

appeal to the wide variety of gamers who want to build a civilization or launch

Warcraft II style attacks on each other. However,

if you are a person that is fascinated with all elements of 19th century European

imperialism, and want to learn a few things as to how it was done, and of course

have a good time doing it, then here you are. One thing to mention, if you do

become attached to this game, it becomes very addicting and the hours will fly

by.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

Rating8
---Really cool graphics, beautiful soundtrack
---Addicting, fun, enough depth to maintain interest
---Thoughtfully engineered interface, smooth gameplay
---Perhaps too detailed for those who want an
emphasis on either economics or diplomacy
---Tactical battle sequences best turned off.