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Imperialism 2

December 30th, 2004 by Troy Goodfellow · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

A thread on the Quarter To Three forum reminded me of Frog City’s classic Imperialism series, so, in a fit of nostalgia, I installed Imperialism 2. And promptly realized how hard this game was.

People talk about learning curves today and they usually mean that a game has a lot of menus and stuff that you never get all the way through on the first few goes. Imperialism 2 has a real learning curve, though, because even though it is always obvious what needs to be done and the order it needs to be done in, it is not always clear how to get from A to B in an efficient manner.

I was great at the original Imperialism game – it was easy to muster a medium sized army and take down a neighboring country, enabling you to expand your resource base quickly. You can’t do this as easily in Imperialism 2. Plus, your soldiers eat food in Imp2, so if you expand your army too quickly you will run short of the food you need to keep the labor.

It’s a delicately balanced game with a simple diplomatic model, and yet the entire series seems to get short shrift when people talk about great strategy games of the nineties. It was turn based, and the battle minigame wasn’t very good (even though the automated battle system was worse) but there was so much going on in this series economy and infrastructure wise that it’s a shame that they are overlooked.

Frog City followed the Imperialism series with the very average Trade Empires, a good looking but ultimately hollow exercise in profit making through history. Since then, they have also done Tropico 2, but have largely been missing in action. Their website is little more than a tech support and sales site at this point, with no announcements of upcoming games or anything. Which is really a shame. Frog City was one of the few strategy game developers with a woman (Rachel Bernstein) as a lead programmer, but even without that they deserve a little more credit for those two Imperialism games. Very difficult, but very elegant.


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