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The historically themed city-building made popular in Impressions games such as Caesar III and Zeus: Master of Olympus moves from the Mediterranean to the Far East with this release set in ancient China. Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom takes players behind the Great Wall to nurture a metropolis that will stand the tests of time. This release was developed by BreakAway Games, the studio that created the Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile expansion for Pharaoh.
As in earlier Sierra releases under the Impressions label, this building game is infused with history and culture. Players begin under the Xia reign of 2100 B.C., then progress three thousand years through the Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui/Tang, and Song dynasties. Cultures develop along the four ancient philosophies of ancestor worship, Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. City improvements produce appropriate commodities such as rice, silk, tea, jade, and many others.
Players have new options in manipulating trade and commodity prices, under a system designed to allow participation in trade wars. The game also features elements of martial defense and combat as well, with realistic wartime hazards such as siege engines, collateral damage, and flammable structures. Like the earlier games though, the focus is on developing a complete, balanced infrastructure for an ancient Chinese capital that will endure any challenge that history holds.
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom is built on a new graphics engine for greater visual detail in all areas of gameplay. Multiplayer games feature spies and diplomacy, and players can raise armies and send them to invade a rival or assist and ally. Allied players can also work together to complete great wonders of engineering, such as the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide