A.G.E. (Advanced Galactic Empire)

Title           A.G.E. (Advanced Galactic Empire)
Game Type       3D Adventure
Publisher       Coktel Vision, 1991
Players         1
Compatibility   All (With WHDLoad Patch)
HD Installable  Yes (With WHDLoad Patch)
Submission      Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer

A.G.E. which stands for Advanced Galactic Empire is perhaps best described
as a 3D Adventure game that sits somewhere between Novagen's Mercenary and
the Assembly Line's Cybercon III. In other words, A.G.E. is a 3D game with
strong adventure elements and some action.

A.G.E. is the sequel to Galactic Empire which I haven't played, but in the
later game, after quite a good 3D animated intro, things begin with you
being dropped of by a space vessel, close to the city of Shade, capital of
the planet Kaiser. Initally, in a manner reminiscent of Mercenary, your
personal computer gives you snippets of advice, seen as text scrolling
across the screen. You get about the place in a small vehicle, called a
Formec, trying to sort out what is actually going on. Making your way from
the Astroshuttle port, and picking up various devices along the way, you
make contact with the governor of Shade. This is the first of a series of
contacts with people who say they will help you (eventually to rescue your
friend, Dale) providing you can find and return an item (or perform a
task) for them.

These encounters, where your mission unfolds, generally take place on an
animated 2D screen where with a few mouse clicks you can collect the
information you need and proceed on your merry way - sometimes being
deposited by your host on another part of the planet in order to reach
the game's next step.

As I mentioned, there is some action in the game, and the first thing you
find is a Laser pistol, which can later be upgraded a number of times. If
you decide to engage somebody with your laser, you simply click on it,
your movement is then arrested, and you must move a target about the
screen with your mouse, firing at your enemy until it is dead. This may
sound fine, but in practice it is rather unsatisfying and generally too
easy, feeling like a poorly executed 8-bit game to me.

The 3D is also rather limited. There are objects here and there on the
landscape, but a lot of your exploring is limited to wandering along
roads, crossing bridges and collecting objects in a rather bland
environment that does little to engender the sensation of (for example) a
bustling city in the way that Ubisoft's BAT or Level 9's The Worm in
Paradise managed to do well.

My main problem with the game, and ultimately the reason I stopped playing
it, was the design, or more accurately the design of the gameplay. Its one
of those adventures where you can only carry a limited number of items in
your inventory, and when you make decisions about which you should keep,
you are guessing. Further along in the game, should you find you guessed
badly, sorry, there is no way back, that's it, you must restart. There are
9 save positions which certainly helps, but there is a surprising amount
of legwork in the game, and fairly frequent savers like myself, may well
run into trouble. This is largely down to taste, of course, but for me a
successful adventure is one that does not make you feel as if you are
being told by somebody to perform fairly mundane and repetitive tasks, and
here A.G.E. doesn't quite pass the test.

A.G.E. has some quite nice touches here and there, although definitely not
of the sonic variety, as the in-game sound is pretty dreadful. The scope,
or perhaps that should read "size", of the game is impressive, and
personally I'm always rather intrigued by a the prospect of finding out
the secrets of another 3D environment, which in A.G.E's case certainly has
a feel that is quite distinctive. Had the combat been a little more
dynamic and exciting, and had the adventure aspect been more compulsive
and less of the errand boy variety, I think it might have achieved classic
status. That may just be me though, so if this genre particuarly appeals
to you, then by all means fill your boots.

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