Ugly but engaging strategy game for armchair explorers
The turn-based strategy genre is a crowded market, with top titles including Civilisation, Total War and Alpha Centauri. While Imperialism 2 lacks the sophistication of some of these other games, it is certainly deep enough to keep budding empire-builders occupied. The game takes players on an epic journey starting in 16th Century Europe and sees them sending out explorers, forging alliances, developing technology and waging war, all with the aim of creating the mightiest empire in history. Players are certainly kept busy, with a number of important considerations to be managed, including resources, international relations, and the needs of your ever growing population. All this is achieved through a user interface which is surprisingly intuitive and easy to get the hang of, despite the complexity of your tasks. Graphically, the game is rather ugly, with basic map screens and crude battle scenes which lack detail. Sound too is minimal and together these factors may put off many players looking for something with a bit more flair. However, to do so would be to ignore what is actually an ingenious and worthy addition to the strategy genre. Although lacking in action, with a deliberately slow pace, Imperialism 2 is addictive and complex, and has much to offer armchair politicians if you can ignore its occasional frustrations.