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Zeus: Master of Olympus Review
developer: Impressions Games
P166, 32MB RAM, 550MB HDD
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Oct 20, 00 (released)
|» All About Zeus: Master of Olympus on ActionTrip|
Nikola "Bunny" Zakic
If you come to compare the position of all those poor women who work as clerks and gaming site editors you'll reach a very interesting conclusion: Those women claim they have to cope with the worst job on earth because they daily meet dozens of various sick perverted maniacs, whilst video-game reviewers have to spend their days looking at the embodiment of the imagination of the aforementioned freaks. It's not that there are no normal programmers or game designers, but if we consider the quantities of blood and monster design in all modern blockbusters, I guess there's not too many of them. Winter months are particularly hard, as anyone who started working on some code strives to use the Christmas generosity of all those grannies and grandpas out there and publishes his work regardless of weather it is finished or not. This can cause serious conflicts between game reviewers and EICs about what games should be reviewed and why, followed but threats of dismissal or pay-cuts. I even got severely punished once - I had to play Extreme Paintbrawl 2 and find anything positive about the game. Fortunately, there is also a good side to all this: Zeus: Master of Olympus, is one game because of which I am willing to keep a stiff upper lip and sustain all the hardships of the trade, and give up wanting to be a female clerk (the fact that lesbians aren't too popular around is the second reason I do not wish to turn female).
After three Caesars, the Pharaoh and Cleopatra, Sierra and Impressions have no intention of giving up the development of sim-city-like games. After a short visit to Africa, the action returns to good-old Europe. The Greeks have their turn, and their history and mythology offer new and refreshing surroundings. The game covers the period from XII century B.C. all to the times of Macedonian tribes and Roman invasion, which have been left for a possible expansion pack. Just don't presume that the game sticks to history too much; the guys from Impression decided that the gaming community prefers myths to history, so they focused on reviving Ancient Greek myths and legends.
And just like EA Sports manages to refresh its Sport sim. serials every year, and prove that each time it can do better, Sierra keeps developing the concept first established in Caesar 3 and keep pace with time without introducing radical changes. Pharaoh will be remembered for introducing great improvements in city management, as the revolutionary roadblocks made observation of your citizen's movements easier. Zeus brings nothing new here. Controls, rules, planning - nothing changed. If you used to be a successful Pharaoh, you'll easily adapt to ancient Greece, and its Gods.
On the other hand, if you thought this was just another expansion pack with slightly different graphics, you were wrong - Zeus certainly deserves to be called a sequel. The developers mended a few flaws that influenced playability in the older games, and introduced some new elements that can only make us wander why no one ever thought of them.
Detailed analysis of improvements would be as follows:
Graphics have been much improved. Even though there was nothing wrong with it in the first place, the authors made it look a bit livelier. The funny bits, which were present in the game's predecessors, have been emphasized. Buildings and heroes look as though they were a part of some quality cartoon.
Sound and music are fantastic. They can really make you feel the atmosphere from before 2500 years (So, what? I may not know what music they were listening then, and I doubt the authors knew for sure, what I do know is: It's damn good).
Apart from looking better, the interface also grew more functional. You can reach any necessary data like the fiscal balance or quantities of resources in the storage yard through a system of menus, and if anything goes wrong, you'll be alerted in due time. It also enables easier trade and industry organization.
8.9 Very Good
Dynamics, continuity of cities through missions, Greek myths and legends, the best game in Sierra's Caesar sim. series;
Poorly done military aspect, no scenario editor.