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Shrapnel Games
Strategy & War
Release Date

Dominions III: The Awakening
August 1, 2006 | Remi Stebenne

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Have you ever wanted to be God? To be able to lead a nation to a golden age, or even to its ruin? With Dominions 3 from Illwinter Game Design and published by Shrapnel Games it is possible; well, at least being a pretender god who has a mission to destroy all other pretenders to become a full and only God. But since you're going to win, what's the difference?

Dominions 3 is much improved from its predecessors, boasting many additions and improvements. In Dominions 2 you could play as 17 distinct nations, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Now in Dominions 3 you can play as 50 different nations! Some nations are similar to others since each nation is from three different eras, so a nation could be from the early age and this same nation could again be seen later in time with many differences that distinguish the two. Some nations are totally different through the ages, such as Ermor, which is a Roman-type nation early on then becomes an undead empire later. Speaking of ages, in Dominions 2 there was only one age; in Dominions 3 they added two other ages, with the Dominions 2 age being the Middle Ages. This makes for a more varied play since each age specializes in different aspects: the early age is usually more magic oriented while the late age is more conventional. This does not mean you can't use magic in the later age and only use magic in the earlier age, however; as a god, you choose how your nation evolves. You can even make it so your god is not there at the beginning of the game so that he is stronger when he does show up or instead of making your god powerful, you can create a powerful nation that does not rely heavily on your god.

Dominions 3 still features the multi-player aspect, which you can use by TCP/IP or by email. Then there is the single player aspect, with different difficulties and strategies controlled by the AI.

The Dominion series was never graphics-heavy. It relies on gameplay to keep you interested instead of fancy special effects. Dominions 3 is no exception; it challenges the mind, not your reflexes. You can think of it as a deeper yet less graphically intensive Civilization-type game.

Overall, the gameplay itself has not changed much since Dominions 2. You still have a bird's eye view of the world and you still move your armies by ordering them to go to the different provinces. Combat is still fully automated, however you can give orders to your commanders and squads of troops before the fight as well as placing them to take advantage of their strengths. This leads to a much more realistic combat, since even though you have no control in battle, you still have input in the strategies and magic that your troops will use. Abilities also change your strategies; for example, a unit with flying can fly past your wall of heavy infantry to attack your commander directly if you do not have any archers or other flying units. There is a new random map feature that is very interesting, as you need no longer be stuck with the default maps or wait for someone to create one. You can now create a random map by defining many different options, or by letting the computer handle the details and create one that is totally random.

The interface itself did not change much from Dominions 2 to 3. However, a lot more information can be seen on the main screen, something that in Dominions 2 you had to go through multiple windows to find. Examples of this vital info include the amount of each type of gem in your treasury and the items and gems in the possession your commanders. This allows you to concentrate more on your strategy than on where to find some information that you could use to see if you actually have the resources you need to wage war against a powerful god-like being.

The graphics also did not change that much, although many units received new sprites, which are very well done. The sprites are all made vastly different-looking so you can differentiate the units.

Dominions 3 features over a thousand different units, over 600 spells and over 300 items. I played for a long time and I am not even close to seeing every unit, spell or item. Since when you forge items, your magical power is used to determine what you can forge, with eight different schools of magic and each school with ten levels of power, it is highly unlikely that you will see everything in one playthrough. Some items have different requirements, and not every item can be forged; some must be found.

Fans of Dominions 2 will rejoice at the coming of this long-awaited sequel, which contains many new features while still keeping the same atmosphere. People who are looking for something that will work the brain instead of the fingers should definitely take a look at this massive yet fun game. I can't wait for the final version to be released; I can't stop playing the preview version I have and it will be the same for the final version. I keep saying one more turn and then I notice a few hours have passed!

Dominions III: The Awakening
Publisher: Shrapnel Games
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