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Prehistoric Tribes

For: Mobile

Stone Age real-time strategy

Product: Prehistoric Tribes | Developer: Gear Games | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Simulation | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 832KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
Prehistoric Tribes Mobile, thumbnail 1
Stone Age man is always portrayed as being fairly backward, but he can't have been completely thick or surely he wouldn't have invented the foot-propelled car or worked out how to use woolly mammoths as tin-openers (source: The Flintstones).

Further proof comes from Prehistoric Tribes, which also recognises that cavemen weren't stupid, and so instead of portraying them as club-wielding wife-beaters, it paints them as quite a funny, amiable group of people.

They do still have clubs, though – which you'll be thankful for seeing as not all homo sapiens back then were apparently very friendly. Indeed, your tribal neighbours appear to be rabidly vicious cannibals intent on smashing up your village and attacking your tribe. It almost makes getting upset when your neighbours play loud music after 11pm seem rather trivial.

Prehistoric Tribes begins at the end of the ice age, with you emerging from your cave and discovering it's not so chilly outside any more. First thing's first. It's time to build a village for your tribe to live in. Beginning with huts so they can rest and – whisper it – procreate, you create some more people before moving on to a kitchen, store room, armoury (to build weapons to use on those pesky cannibals) and even a gym. Hey, Sone Age man was just as body conscious as the rest of us.

So, this is a resource management game through and through – one that's very similar to a game like The Settlers, just presented in a more humorous way and set firmly during prehistoric times. As such, it follows convention – to construct buildings, for instance, you must first have gathered the necessary resources (such as stone and wood), whereas to keep your people alive you need to find, hunt and prepare food.

Even once you've set up a thriving community and have little cave children crawling about the place, sadly you can't just tuck into another sabre-toothed tiger rib and beat your chest a bit because those rival tribes keep invading and trying to trash your buildings.

After waves of attacks, buildings need repairing and – if enough people have been killed – the population needs to be built back up. Throughout the game you're constantly trying to train up your people (by building them bigger and better weapons and making them practise to build up their stats) and also laying traps such as nets to better protect your village. New advancements are made as you play and new areas are discovered by exploring the surrounding areas, which keeps things fresh, but the bread and butter – or raw meat and bone – of the game lies in keeping on top of your resources and ensuring everything is running smoothly.

In theory, this is quite simply done using the game's mainly point-and-click controls. Each of your people can be clicked on to view their status then an object (such as a tree, if you want them to gather wood) is clicked on to move them to it. In practice though, Prehistoric Tribes gets quite fiddly. It's hard to tell if a person is actually going to do what you've told them to. Quite often they seem to wander off from tasks such as building, leaving structures half-built, when you thought they were in hand.

This means that management is fairly low level, with you scrolling to follow people just to check they're going to the right place. However, the game ups its difficulty fairly gently, so the seeming slowness of your progress seldom spells disaster.

This aside there's plenty that's good about the experience. Such as its presentation – your village is soon a bustling, thriving centre of activity that you want to keep building up and protecting – and its humour. This is no po-faced strategy game, although neither is it one with too much complexity. Fighting, for instance, is just a case of directing groups of tribes into position, watching them battle it out and hoping you've upped your lot's stats enough beforehand for them to win. There's little here fans of the genre won't have seen before.

If cutesy, Stone Age strategy appeals, though, Prehistoric Tribes delivers all the standard stuff dressed up in funny fur. And two difficulty levels and a Custom game option means it offers a good few hours of play. Ultimately, it's addictive enough that you'll be ready for the Bronze Age sequel before you know it.
Prehistoric Tribes
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 14 April 2008
Addictive, cartoon-style real-time strategy game that delivers a decent challenge but one that perhaps won't be complex enough for some
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