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The Fertile Crescent Preview

A Fertile ground for old-school RTS fun.

Fertile Crescent 1
I must confess to having a certain soft spot for the original Age Of Empires. Sure, its sequels were objectively superior in virtually every regard, but there’s a certain charm to the original’s antiquated gameplay and visuals. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that I was delighted to discover The Fertile Crescent, which is a loving tribute to Ensemble’s overture.

The Fertile Crescent is still in an alpha state, but it’s very playable. As the name would suggest, it takes place in the ancient Near East and features tribes that work towards building their civilization through expansion and conquest. Veterans of the historical RTS know what that means: set up a base, spawn civilians to collect food and wood, and get yourself a working army as soon as possible.

 

Putting the “mess” back in Mesopotamia.


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The game adds a few interesting twists to this familiar formula. For example, clay is a resource and is required for all buildings, though it isn’t found in the maps. Instead, players need to construct a clay pit over a marsh and assign workers to dig it out. Also, farms can be placed, but their location has a direct effect on their efficiency. There is also a far greater emphasis on food than in other games, and it’s possible for your tribe to starve and eventually revolt due to your ineptitude. Harsh. Surplus food supplies are encouraged, and these lead directly to the accumulation of knowledge; an abstract resource. Knowledge is used to unlock new technologies and upgrades, especially for the military and your defensive capabilities.

Though it’s playable, there is a considerable amount of content missing in comparison to this game’s inspiration. There is only one map type and it is randomly generated. The generation is pretty good, but some more variety in the landscape types and features will help a lot. Naval warfare is absent as of writing this article, and there are no options for fishing or related tasks. Nonetheless, the AI is effective and can give a decent beating on the highest difficulty. It also knows how to ankle-bite, which is almost a tradition in RTS.

 

Bronze Age buffoonery at its best.

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I had a good time with this tiny little download. A single-player match is loads of fun, even without an army of priests chanting like lunatics. It’s better with another person, as you are afforded all manner of ways to completely and utterly irritate your opponent. The essence of what made Age Of Empires so great is captured masterfully here, and I especially love the pixel art style and streamlined gameplay. There’s a great core of a game here and I look forward to seeing where the developers take it.

If you want to try your hand at it, you can download it from here. The good news is that Windows, Linux, and macOS users can all get in on the action.

Have you tried this game? Did you get to experience its multiplayer? Let us know by sounding off in the comments below.

Delano Cuzzucoli
Delano is a lifelong gamer who resides in the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. He's also a political student, artist, geek, writer, historian, skeptic, linguaphile, IT nerd and electronic music fan. An eccentric lover of the strange and beautiful who is equal parts harmony and discord.
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