WARNING: Prepare to sacrifice many of the unimportant things in your life (such as eating, sleeping, working, talking to others, etc.) if you get your hands on Chaos Overlords. This is the most addictive game I have played in years.
The concept is simple enough. The game itself is a turn-based strategic gang battle (see Urban Turfwar) played on an 8x8 grid. You are a Chaos Overlord (read: Futuristic Kingpin) whose sole purpose in life is to control as many city blocks as possible, therefore assuring a healthy nest egg for your retirement. You accomplish this goal by hiring gangs (read: Guys With Bats) and influencing local merchants in secured blocks to pay for insurance. Your gangs can also perform other tasks such as chaosing (read: Looting) an area to fatten your wallet and rumbling with rival gangs (read: Opening Up a Can of Whoop-Ass). In addition, some of your more intelligent gangs can research new equipment. This is very important because, as everyone knows, he who owns the most toys (especially the Plasma Generator) wins. You can even equip your gangs with such items as cool hats and boom-boxes to make them better diplomats and looters, respectively.
By including six goal-oriented scenarios and four timed scenarios, Stick Man Games has developed a product that overcomes the monotony found in so many other strategic wargames. Goal-based scenarios range from Eliminate, in which you must seek out and destroy a rival Chaos Overlord's Right Hand, to the ever-satisfying Kill 'Em All. General philosophies such as Greed (the acquisition of cash), Power (the acquisition of property), Acceptance (heightening popularity), and Dominance (a combination of all of the above) determine your overall score in the time-based scenarios.
Chaos Overlords includes four levels of Artificial Intelligence: Goon, Criminal, Crime Lord, and Homicidal Maniac (read: Game Over). After you learn the game, you should be able to rise to Goon level easily, but even the Criminal level is challenging. And go ahead and forget about winning on Homicidal Maniac.
The graphics in Chaos Overlords are superb. Although small, the pictures of the different gangs and pieces of equipment are each very unique and detailed. The combat animations are smooth and can be very satisfying as you watch your Shock Troopers mow down a few rival Nancy Boys. The ambient soundtrack is also very appealing. The CD tracks complement the experience rather than overpowering the game. I can even hear the music in my head as I drift off to sleep.
Perhaps the best feature in Chaos Overlords is the ability to play against up to five human opponents via a network, modem, or the Internet. Human opponents offer the best challenge and, of course, the most satisfying experience. There is nothing like the feeling of destroying a rival Chaos Overlord in Ohio. You can even set a time limit for each player's turn, allowing for relatively fast gameplay.
Although not for action gamers, Chaos Overlords should overjoy anyone who likes turn-based strategy wargames. But if your health starts slipping from spending too much time in front of your monitor, please, please give it a rest the game will still be there tomorrow.