iPad Game Review: Emperor - Kaiser for iPad
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Emperor - Kaiser is a classic strategy game from the 80's that's been given a significant facelift and a touch interface.
Emperor - Kaiser is a rather complex Risk-like turn-based strategy game where you attempt to conquer medieval Europe, which has been conveniently divided up into 80 provinces. A remake of a classic C-64 game, Emperor features vastly improved graphics and sound as well as a touch interface. Considering the fact that the 8-bit version was entirely joystick and keyboard driven, this was no mean feat. As with many other grand strategy games, success and failure will hinge on your ability to know when to build infrastructure and when to prepare for war.
There are quite a few options available for you to achieve this from tax rates to various territory improvements such as mills, barracks, and foundries. The basic strategy is fairly easy to grasp; build up your provinces, build soldiers and cannons, attack. If it sounds repetitive, it's not. Your path to victory will be affected by random events, terrain, weather, and of course, your opponents' actions.
Unfortunately, the tutorial is woefully inadequate, and the interface is less than intuitive. If you can manage to stick with it, there is a solid and deep strategy game waiting for you. However, you're going to do a lot of trial and error before you get there. The AI is decent, but if you prefer human opponents, you're going to have to settle for multiplayer on the same device as no online/wifi/Bluetooth multiplayer options are available.
While the graphics are a massive improvement over Kaiser's 8-bit ancestor, they are still a bit underwhelming so don't expect a lot of eye candy. This is a strategy game, after all, so the gameplay's the thing. Right? Still, the hand-drawn graphics have a distinctive charm, and while the animation is sparse, it's definitely adequate.
The game's sound effects are definitely better than the original C-64 version. However, they are still quite minimal, and the in-game music consists only of classical music, which may or may not be to your liking. I happen to like classical music but I can only listen to the Brandenburg Concerto so many times before I start clawing for the mute button.
Emperor - Kaiser neither offers nor requires in-app purchases of any kind. Kudos to Comport Interactive for giving us the whole game for our dollar.
Emperor - Kaiser is a solid and well-designed turn-based strategy game. If you've ever been bored with Risk because it didn't have enough options, this game is for you. It's not for everybody, however. It's almost non-existent tutorial and somewhat unintuitive interface will conspire to make you throw up your hands and give up before you master the game's mechanics. Sticking with it, however, will reveal a rich strategy game, with great replayability.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - A serious upgrade over its 8-bit ancestor, however it still lags visually behind many similar games.
Sound: - 3 - Fairly simple sound effects and a public domain classical music soundtrack.
Controls: - 4 - The interface will take some getting used to, but once you learn it, it works well.
Gameplay: - 5 - Those who put in the time to learn it will be rewarded with an excellent turn-based grand strategy gaming experience.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Play your first game with a single CPU opponent to give you some breathing room as you learn the ropes. The tutorial will leave you unprepared so plan on tapping randomly and tinkering with the interface to see what things do. If you spend a half-hour with it, it will start to come together. Build Mills for your first few provinces to get your income flowing.
Developer: Comport Interactive
Release Date: January 14, 2012
Buy App: Emperor - Kaiser
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