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by JoWood Productions

screen3_gross-01.jpg (6981 bytes)JoWood productions has produced an interesting game that takes its cues from real life instead of fantasy.   World War III: Black Gold takes all the action of a real time strategy game and adds real life units and terrain.  The story is one of this game’s strongest points combining realistic circumstances with a fictional story. Units and game play are also a prominent part of this game. Game play and is affected vastly by the ability to edit your units, affect the terrain and supply or not supply your units.

screen4_gross-01.jpg (3170 bytes)This game is based on a fictional World War that happens "in the near future" and centers around the fight to control the oil of the world.  World oil reserves have plummeted to only a 5-year supply, and no country has the resources to change over quickly enough to alternate energy sources. The world war breaks out when certain countries try and take control of the only oil left in the world.  You as Russia, America, or Iraq fight for total domination of world oil reserves and world domination in the process.   Heroes abound on every side as the world plunges deeper and deeper into a war without winners.

screen6_gross-01.jpg (3936 bytes)Units in this game are based  on current units used by the militaries of the world and thus are very realistic. Jo Wood productions worked with he U.S. military in and effort to create more realistic units for this game. U.S. units include such battle vehicles as the Apache and the Abrams tank. The vehicles are made as closely as possible to actual U.S. units and use an incredible array of weapons. Russian units are units that are easily produced and are used almost solely for mass attacks. Iraq has a huge supply of old surplus weapons from the various armies of the world and basically uses shear will power to defeat its enemies. Buildings consist of various structures to gather oil, power the base, and fly units in. There is a large array of automatic defense buildings with which to defend your base. Players design units with the unit design menu.  As the player, you use the design menu by choosing from a selection of parts you have researched and placing them together to form many different units. By using your own designs, you can gain a vast advantage if you build each unit with a purpose.

screen2_gross-01.jpg (5202 bytes)By far the most interesting of the units are the supply and engineering units used by the various sides. One of the most innovative portions of this game is that your units will run out of ammo and thus become useless in battle. Game play is vastly affected by this and adds huge depth to the game. Supplies are brought to your units by the supply helicopters and, depending on your enemy and your fighting style, can be the difference between victory or defeat in a battle. Battles, although relatively complicated, are very interesting. Depending on your playing style, units may go low on ammo before the end of the battle and become basically useless to you. If you don’t use each type of unit in the aspect of the battle they were made for, they’re easy prey. Each unit has its strengths and weaknesses, and one group of units cannot win a battle for you, but with selective targeting and group building you can form groups that overpower even enemy forces of far greater number and strength. Not only are battles influenced by the units and supply access, but they are also effected by the terrain on which you are fighting. If you are on high terrain you have better aim and attack ability; if you catch enemies between your forces in a valley, they sometimes cannot even get a shot off on your besieging units. The most innovative use of terrain is delivered by the all-important engineering vehicles, which can alter terrain in a few significant ways. Engineering vehicles can build trenches that act as almost complete barriers to at tacking enemy units. Vehicles caught in trenches are severely limited in their fighting ability and cannot even move out of the way of your units shooting from above. Also, engineering vehicles can build bridges allowing your units to traverse bodies of water and sneak attack enemy bases with almost any amount of units you can build.

screen1_gross-01.jpg (5748 bytes)This game is very nice but still has some problems, and it seems to be a well made remake of Earth 2150, which was all but the same as this game. GUIs and the terrain, and terrain mod system seem to be totally unchanged from the original game. Still around is the problem of terrain modifying units getting stuck on their own modifications thus making them far less effective if you do not pay close enough attention to them. Although seemingly the same, it still has its differences that make it a good game and a worth while buy.

s1_gr-01.jpg (6399 bytes)World War III is pure gold and a good buy for any war game or real-time strategy enthusiast. Games like this are in great supply however and most people will not have the resources of both time and money to afford this game. All around this is a fairly decent collector type game but one I would not recommend for those new to the strategy genre.

Jonathan Park   (12/18/2001)


Ups: Realism; custom designing units; complex and difficult.

Downs: Maybe too complex; nothing too unique here.

Platform: PC