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issue: 04/15/2000

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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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reviewed by Donald Melanson

Compared to other genres, there have been relatively few breakthrough real-time strategy games. Dune II almost single-handedly defined the genre as we know it today, then the Warcraft and Command & Conquer series took the concept to the level that we've been mostly accustomed to to this date. Sierra's Homeworld is the latest revolution, and will surely be the standard by which all future real-time strategy games will be judged against.

The step that Homeworld takes is to bring the genre into 3D. This could have easily made things overly complicated, if not completely unplayable. Instead, Homeworld adds a whole new level of gameplay to the genre. Despite this, the concept of a 3D real-time strategy game still gives the impression of something very complex, and could be off-putting to some. But since Homeworld has been nothing short of a runaway success, this appears to have not been the case.

The other area where Homeworld innovates is with its storyline. Much like Sierra's Half-Life, Homeworld focuses more on the story than other games in the genre have previously, and as a result make it a greater game overall. It's also something that appears to be on a slight downturn in light of the exploding trend in multi-player gaming; it's a great single-player game.

The graphics are unquestionably the best ever in a real-time strategy game. In fact, an onlooker may even think you're playing a 3D space combat game at times. Likewise, the sound and music are perfectly suited to the game. However, despite these innovations, the underlying basics of real-time strategy remain. You choose between two races, harvest resources, and continually research new technologies. In that respect, anyone who's played a real-time strategy game should be able to jump right in.

Between Homeworld, Half-Life and Gabriel Knight 3, Sierra has published three of the best games in recent years; quite possibly the best in their respective genres.

Donald Melanson is the editor-in-chief of Mindjack Magazine. His latest venture is, a new media design shop.


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