Title Steel Empire (aka Cyber Empires) Game Type Action Strategy Players 1-4 Compatibility All (not fast ram) HD Installable No Submission Angus Manwaring Profiled Reviewer Review There's some meaty strategy and tactical knowledge called for in this action packed 2D Mech game. You can build armies from a wide range of Mech like machines, fight for territory, and the resulting revenue, over a variety of different terrains. Defensive battles range from attempting to stand your ground with a lone Cyclops vehicle to eagerly beckoning your foes forward from behind your heavily fortified stronghold bristling with Titan and Hercules class monsters. For myself though, few things compare with storming through your opponents defences with your assaulting force, and stomping his vital factories into the ground. I remember this game was criticised for falling between two stools, on the one hand being an action game, on the other, a contest of strategy. Rubbish. The balance is excellent. There's some highly satisfying blasting to be had, but in the end, being a master of joystick wiggling is not going to help you if your tactics are all wrong. Similarly, while the strategic part of the game is very nicely presented, and headache free, you're going to pay the price if you're not flexible, efficient and willing to take risks. A highly underrated classic. I like the game because I'm interested in the principles of warfare and while Steel Empire ends up as a bit of a blast, you control the factors that lead you to that blast. You determine what risks you take in invading new countries; do you try and grab that desert country that will provide a solid buffer against a counterattack with your only spare mech, or do you choose caution, and consolidate until you feel strong enough to take the offensive? There are several different types of country, each with different implications, while the industrial countries will provide more revenue, they cannot be fortified. There is a tendency to try and grab them anyway, but this often leads to great expense on both sides in what becomes a "Stalingrad" situation. In a volcanic country, where the heat is so intense, you can have a huge problem trying to weed out an enemy that is sitting smugly behind his defences. I've held off virtual armies in this situation with nothing more than a Dragon. This is where the Crossbow comes into it's own, with it's awesome use of long range missiles. I think the tactics in the actual fighting are probably overlooked too. When you are assaulting (or defending) a country, commanding up to nine other machines, you are able to influence the outcome in quite a wide variety of ways. Although the control you have over your battlegroup as a whole seems very simple; Advance, Retreat, and Stand fast, you are able to "jump" into any of your machines at any time and influence events with your own skills. You can also "program" your force with what their main objective is and how strongly they should adhere to that aim. The game is nicely presented throughout. It works superbly as a multiple player game, but it is also great fun taking on the computer controlled opponents, with their varaible degrees of "nastiness". Steel Empire is an extremely accessible game, but beneath the surface there is a depth which reflects many of the acknowledged principles of warfare, making it a highly rewarding experience.