Empire of the Ants
The moment this game hit my desk, I have to admit I felt mixed emotions about it. Not even the editor's pacifying words of: "You're one of our resident strategy experts, here's an interesting looking RTS for you to review," helped sway me in a particular direction. History is resplendent with high points for these little insects, such as Antz and Bugs Life. But there have been some equally spectacular lows. You need look no further than Ant from Ant and Dec to see what I mean.
Empire Of The Ants is at least based around an original enough concept (for an RTS game), which allows it to stand out from the crowd. The developers have given the insects human characteristics and a history, which is presented in a CD-based encyclopedia. If you can be bothered to wade through the text before starting the campaign, you'll find it actually helps give EOTA some much needed charisma.
The first thing that strikes you when you start playing are the graphics. Not the pretty nature artwork of the above-ground locations, but the sub-standard looks-like-an eight-year-old-drew-this interiors of the ant hill. This aside, we found that EOTA had a fair amount to offer. As you've probably guessed from the previous paragraph, the game is set over two locations - surface and ant hill. Resource collection and combat take place at ground level, while building your colony occurs in the ant hill. The idea behind EOTA is to create a prosperous and powerful nation of ants who can survive in a world full of predators, natural hazards (rain, frost, etc) and rival colonies.
You get to control every aspect of your industrious ant kingdom, from egg laying to job allocation. You even have to make sure that your ant hill stays at the right temperature and is well maintained. Neglect any one of these tasks and your kingdom will fall into decay and disrepair. Although it's a nice enough idea, the game actually suffers from being set over two tiers.
Let's say you're underground sorting out which type of ant to build next. You'll probably be too preoccupied to notice the praying mantis on the surface, sneaking up on your warrior ants. And by the time you do, it will be too late, and subsequently you'll end up losing loads of troops.
Controlling your ants is a simple enough affair, as warriors can be commanded with the mouse, and all other ants are directed through menus. This makes it easy to distinguish your army units from your workers, which is a huge relief considering the complexity of the game - and EOTA is complex. You're going to have to love micro management as much as nature if you want to get the most out of it. The combat sections are pretty uninspired affairs, even though there are plenty of predators out there prepared to have a little go at your troops. If you're going to get any real enjoyment here, then it'll be from managing your colony. Even then, you're going to have to be verging on the anally-retentive side to fully appreciate it.
Empire Of The Ants is a highly ambitious game, one which attempts to move the RTS genre away from hi-tech weaponry and into the natural world. OK, the graphics may not be up to scratch, but the involving gameplay compensates for the shoddy visuals. The multiplayer and skirmish options help to improve it further, by adding a greater sense of immediacy and excitement, which is so sorely missing from the campaign missions. Despite all its flaws, EOTA is no disaster -far from it. But its below par graphics, slightly clumsy interface and dull combat sections hardly inspire you. As a result of these shortcomings, we can only recommend this to you if you're an RTS fanatic, a micro management freak or David Attenborough.
Download Empire of the Ants
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode