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PC Poseidon: Zeus Official Expansion Developer: Impressions Games | Publisher: Sierra Studios
Rating: B+Kane
Type: RTS Skill Level: Intermediate
Players: 1 Available: Now

Impressions Games' Zeus: Master of Olympus was not as great as it was hoped to be. Though the flaws in the designs for city-building games in the series were addressed in Zeus, Zeus still had a whole bunch of flaws. Regardless of its lack of great fame, Impressions Games still remained loyal to its fans and worked on an official expansion to make Zeus better than its release version. The end result is Poseidon.

Poseidon, the official expansion, allows the players to construct the mighty fabled civilization of Atlantis, a mysterious ancient civilization that has caught the attention and confused many archeologists throughout the world. In Poseidon, players are to construct Atlantean cities in four different "adventures" (campaigns) through the mythological history of Atlantis from its glorious rise to its dramatic demise. Like Zeus, the expansion is in no way based on actual history, but more on mythological records.

The expansion pack features a volley of new aspects including new science buildings, new campaign and custom adventures, new aesthetics structures, new monsters, and new gods. Since Atlantis is believed to have influenced various world cultures, players can also interact, but not build, with other civilizations including the Mayans, Egyptians, Phoenicians, etc. You can trade with them suck-up to them with gifts or tribute, piss them off by raiding their cities and demand tribute, or better yet, conquer them.

The new science structures replace the culture buildings since the developers reasoned that "science is their culture". New aesthetic details such as baths, sundials, new types of gardens have been included, along with a rather interesting addition of the hippodrome, which is a customizable horse race track that draws respect from other Atlantean cities as well as a little (very little, actually) money from spectators. The most fascinating aspect of all the structures featured in Poseidon would be the pyramidal structures, which are shrines, monuments to the sky or to gods, and ziggurat-shaped pyramids. While they don't actually serve a specific purpose besides improving the appeal of neighborhoods, they are required for certain scenarios. The shrines and pyramids are in no way as magnificent as the ones featured in Pharaoh, the city-building title based on the master of pyramids, the Ancient Egyptians. It ain't the pyramids of Giza, but they're still quite nice. Poseidon also features a bunch of new industries including cattle ranching, orange growing, deer hunting, and mining and utilizing the new minerals black marble and orichalc, which is just some mythological metal.

Now onto the mythological stuff. Atalanta and Bellerophon are the two new heroes in Poseidon. Atalanta, a prominent mythological huntress, is the only female hero featured since 1) other female heroes were not as famous and probably won't fit into the game and 2) the Ancient Greeks back then were chauvinistic and patriarchal and extremely male-oriented. And Bellerophon was the hero that thought he deserved to be among the gods so he attempted to fly Pegasus to the top of Olympus, but got shot down by one disgruntled Zeus. You'll notice that in the game he holds his head up high in an extremely arrogant manner. Along with the two new heroes, two new gods are added to the pantheon, or to be more accurate, a goddess and a titan. If Hera and Zeus existed in our reality, they'd be welcomed guests on the Jerry Springer show, a unique mythological divine couple to say the least. One interesting aspect of Hera, being a very powerful woman and can truly be a real bitch, is that she is the only deity that can put that old goat, Zeus, in his place. You're quite lucky if she's in your favor and you're quite unlucky if she has PMS. Atlas isn't too powerful of a deity, but he does bless marble miners and artisans guilds and he does speed up construction of monuments, which can be a real bitch especially when building Poseidon's new big ass sanctuary. Poseidon also has a bunch of new monsters including Echidna, the Sphinx, the Harpies, and the Chimera.

The military elements are generally the same in concept, with a few distinctions in the army makeup. The Atlantean military is different from the normal Greek military in that the Atlanteans have Archers, Spearmen, and Charioteers. The Atlanteans build Frigates, which are fire-launching ships, rather than Greek Triremes. Towers also pack a powerful punch with their orichalc launchers. Other than that, the tactics remain the same old point-and-click system. But also remember that Poseidon is not a game of tactical finesse.

The Atlantean structures as compared to the Greek structures are generally similar. Only the science buildings and the pyramids are different. The new sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon is absolutely spectacular, but it takes too long to build and covers too much land. The little animations of workers in the new buildings are quite entertaining, such as the university teacher swatting a student on the ass with a really big stick and the orange tenders juggling and dropping oranges. Though the pyramid structures are exceptionally cool, they don't seem to actually capture the beauty of classical Greek architecture. Giving attention to the audio deparment, the sound quality remains the same, although a new set of tracks and voice samples for introduced (i.e. for the new heroes, gods, monsters, and science workers). Aside from that, it's all the same.

Poseidon is quite a decent expansion with a lot of good new stuff. Though some players may still be a bit disappointed, remember that this is only an expansion pack and Poseidon really does add a lot for an expansion pack. Along with its new adventures and a map editor, Poseidon can easily get very addicting.

· · · Kane

Rating: B+Kane
Graphics: 7 Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9 Replay: 9
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