Based on the famous book by Philip Jose Farmer, RiverWorld
brings a rich atmosphere to build a intuitive realtime strategy
with some complex role playing concepts. In a very lush
3D enviroment you will need to create, defend, and conquer
the various territories and advance your people through the
You are Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous English
explorer from the 18th century. You came, and saw, and died,
yet somehow you are here. You explored the Nile, visited
Mecca, but now you have been resurrected along with other
famous characters on this strange and artificial "RiverWorld."
Surrounded by the unknown, you decide to strike out and build
an empire and advance your people through the ages.
From the moment I started up the game, I was intrigued. It
looked like Myth, handled like Age of Empires, and was dark
and mysterious. First off, I was confused. I had some people,
but there were all these unclaimed people on my screen, so I
decided I'd start building houses. Lo and behold, the people
started flocking to my little town. You assign citizens to do
various tasks, from collecting resources, to training other
citizens to do specialized work such as workers and scientists.
It runs along very similar to Age of Empires, as you progress,
you build laboratories and armories to advance your
civilization and defend it from attack. The Grail Stone is the
center of all territories. In order to capture a territory, you must
attack the Grail Stone. Burton is the only one that can do so, so
the armies you build will have to see to it that he's successful.
Burton can never die, but he is resurrected back at his starting
place, so it's in your best interest to make sure he captures the
The game is broken down into four levels. This doesn't sound
like much, but each level has quite a few territories to capture
and it's not exactly a fast process in doing so. You have
limited populations in each territory so it makes it somewhat
hard to just create a huge army and go stomp on someone
else. The biggest issue I found in this game was that in order
to advance to the next age, you needed to find a special
character to teach your people this new age. I found it
extremely difficult to find this person and spent way too much
of the game time searching for him, while my computer
opponents easily advanced to the next ages and took over the
territories. They should have colored the special units in a
different color so they'd be easier to spot. Like I said before,
the worlds are huge and the people aren't. I found hunting
down every white dot in the game a little too frustrating.
The advancing from each age is very interesting. You start in
the Wood Age, progress to the Stone Age, then to more
modern ages, and on into the future. There's eleven ages in
all, but you only have access to four ages in each world. Each
age has its own vehicles, weapons, buildings, and resources.
Each territory only has one age and it does not advance to a
new age, so you must conquer an advanced age in order to
gain the benefits of being trained in this age. All of the ages
are visually distinguished which makes it easy to tell which
age is which. Of course, each age is also more powerful then
its predecessor. This means you will need to push for
advancement in order to achieve anything further in the game.
Graphically, it's quite good. It supports 3DFX and Direct3D and
appears to be hardware accelerated only, so for all of you
without the graphic power, you'll have to hold off for awhile.
The water wasn't transparent, but it had a metallic reflective
effect that was pretty nice. Explosions could have been better,
it tended to be smoke and noise and no flames. Destruction
was somewhat similar to Wargames since the buildings didn't
have a realistic collapse or explosion. It's all 3D modeled so no
sprites here. Objects are nicely rendered, but far from the best
I've seen. The people working do work although they have no
tools in their hands to use. The action is good but it looks
unfinished without objects in their hands. The console looks
nice and fits well with the gameplay.
It seemed to lack a lot sound effects. It had some, but it just
didn't seem like enough. It also was strangely devoid of
speech. All player interaction was done through pop-up boxes.
Maybe it was just me, but I didn't hear any speech and didn't
see any options for it. The music is done through CD Audio and
should easily fit the mood of the game.
It was perplexing. I was very interested in the way the game
took shape. I wanted to progress as quickly as possible, but it
seemed to never work out the way I wanted it to. I found it
challenging to accomplish the goals to progress to the next
level before my opponents overpowered me and left me with
nothing. The view screen is pretty well done. You have an
overhead map with your local area, along with a map of the
entire world. If you click on points in those maps or your main
display, it will move the camera to that position. From here you
can spin around with your mouse and move the angle up and
down. You can also click on people and the camera will follow
them as they move. It will also allow you to see through the
eyes of your people, which sort of seemed a little
disconcerting, but somewhat similiar to Dungeon Keeper.
It's long and complicated. It's definitely not going to entertain
the mass of average gamers. It gets frustrating trying to find
these special people to advance your empire, especially since
your opponents are rapidly growing closer to you. It may be a
desirable game to fans of Myth and AoE, but it seems too slow
to really appeal to that category either. It's definitely a different
game that doesn't mesh too well with other games in its genre.
This sets it apart, but a lot of times being set apart doesn't
make it a fun game.
It says it has multiplayer, but I (like the speech before) found no
options for it. I decided I will split the score here between multi
and storyline. The storyline is very well done. It is for the most
part interesting. I'm now interested in the book this is based on.
Even if it is famous, I've never heard of it, but the game seems
like I should take a peak.
RiverWorld is definitely not a game everyone will enjoy. It
seems to be a game that will get some diehard fans while
everyone else will just look at them funny. It's intriguing and
interesting enough at first. It is very deep and any player that is
up to the challenge and can make it far enough into the game
is bound to enjoy it. For the rest of us, I'd say pass on this one.
This isn't the game to break out and create its own genre, but it
will stand out alone.
Entertainment Value: 11/20 (Someone who gets into this game
will enjoy it more)
Overall Impression: 8/10
PII 300 under Windows 98 with 128 Megs RAM and a 8 meg
Voodoo Rush (the banshee will be here this weekend
NOTE: I was unable to run RiverWorld under 3DFX/GLide, but
the Direct3D was nonetheless impressive. (I'm assuming it was
just a problem with the Rush chipset)