0 AD Review

0 AD Review 


0 AD is an excellent free, Open Source, Cross-Platform, ancient warfare RTS(Real-Time Strategy) from Wild Fire Games that has begun to rival triple A class games.  0 AD focuses on the 500 BC to 500 AD time period for units, civilization, economy, and game style.  0 AD has amazing graphics, sound quality, and overall game play that rivals other modern RTS games.  0 AD has a mixed feel of Age of Empires, Empire Earth, and the Total War series, while maintaining it’s own feel. 0 AD is currently in the Alpha stage and is showing great possibilities and already fun and interesting game play.


Below are the features of 0 AD as pulled from the 0 AD site, at http://wildfiregames.com/0ad/page.php?c=46


  • The engine core is written in C++ for performance, but the scripting language, javascript, is what we try to write as much in as possible.
  • Rendering: OpenGL with shaders
  • Libraries used: OpenAL, OpenGL, Boost, Crypto++, CxxTest, DevIL, SDL, SpiderMonkey, Vorbis, wxWidgets, Xerces
  • Operating Systems:System Requirements: 1 GHz CPU, modern graphics card (GeForce 3 at minimum), 512 MB RAM
    • Windows 2000, XP, 2003, XP64, Vista
    • Linux
    • Mac OS X
  • Tools used: Visual Studio, g++, CppDoc, COLLADA, Debugging and Profiling tools included


  • OpenGL-based rendering engine with shaders
  • Hierarchal skeletal animation and deformation system based on COLLADA
  • Fancy animated water with refraction, reflection
  • Realistic shadows
  • Particle effects
  • Environmental lighting effects (time of day, sunset)
  • Flexible terrain renderer that uses alpha maps to seamlessly blend terrain


  • Unique civilizations: In 0 A.D. each civilization will be unique in its appearance, units, structures, and technology trees.
  • Citizen soldiers: There will be no standard villager unit. Instead, regular infantry and cavalry have not only military capabilities, but also economic, making them substantially more versatile than in typical RTS games.
  • Unit auto-upgrading: Citizen Soldiers will gain experience and automatically gain promotions. With each rank, they become stronger, and don a unique appearance but also get gradually worse at civilian tasks.
  • Units on structures and ships: Gone are the days of units disappearing into buildings and transport ships. Some garrisoned units will be visible on the battlements of structures or the decks of ships, and capable of firing on opponents at range.
  • Realistic naval warfare: No more tiny ships sinking other ships with arrows. Ship gameplay will include a variety of new features in RTS games, like much larger ship sizes, ship capture, sea rams, and a modular design that allows catapults to be stationed on the decks, and units to fire from the bows.
  • Choices, choices, and more choices: Technology trees branch out in a pair-based hierarchy. For example, when you are given the option of techs 1A and 1B and you choose 1A to research, 1B is no longer available. Some of the techs that are higher up on the tech ladder will require that tech 1A is done, while others will require tech 1B. This adds a level of strategy and ‘randomness’ to picking your techs, as availability of higher level techs will depend on your choices earlier in the game. Similar choices are available with unit formations and battle tactics.
  • Provinces and territories: In some game types, the map is subdivided into provinces that must be captured and annexed into a player’s territory in order to reap their valuable resources and construct forward bases in these areas. If the host wishes, a player’s starting province can also be surrounded by attrition borders to reduce early rushes.
  • Real world map realism: Random maps are based upon geographical regions where the civilizations of the ancient world lived. These will be generated with biome specific-to-location features that replicate the look and feel of the world as it existed 2,000 years ago: flora, fauna and terrain.


  • Multiplayer networking: Peer to peer, no central server.
  • Includes a level editor (Atlas) integrated with the Pyrogenesis engine.
  • Extreme moddability: WFG started out as a game modification team, and true to our heritage and the FOSS philosophy, we believe being able to tinker with a game contributes to lasting fun and learning. Aspects of the game like game logic, artwork, and data can be tweaked with tools or by modifying XML and javascript files to totally change the game.

Game play

0 AD’s game play, as stated earlier, has a feel of Age of Empires, Empire Earth, and the Total War series rolled into one, with it’s own twist.  The game play in 0 AD is refreshing and really draws you in.  I personally tried out the random map game play first.  In 0 AD’s random maps, you start with a main base, a few citizens(which act as builders and gatherers), and a small military garrison.  From these humble beginnings you can build a thriving economy and strong military, but only if you are mindful of the AI.  The AI in 0 AD is currently still being improved upon, but it still can fight.  I learned the hard way my self.  I focused on building a strong, thriving economy and totally neglected my military.  This was detrimental to me and my people.  Soon after establishing my economy and laying out my city, the marauding enemy AI player came in.  My small garrison was able to fend them off, but this must have only been a scouting party.  Soon I was swarmed with enemy troops, who made short work of my garrison, and sent my city into ruins.  0 AD requires you to be able to balance economy management with military prowess.

0 AD also comes with a few built in scenarios that are built in likeness of the past, such as the Gallic tribes fighting the Romans(and eachother).  0 AD also comes with a Scenario Editor, which is an excellent addition.  The gameplay in 0 AD is well rounded, and you will feel like you paid for the game(you can donate to the game developers at http://wildfiregames.com/0ad/page.php?p=6438 if you are so inclined).  This really sets the mark for other open source projects to follow.


0 AD definitely is a game worthy of much admiration.  With beautiful graphics, epic sound and music, to a great user interface, everything about 0 AD screams AAA game.  I really enjoyed playing and reviewing 0 AD.

A few areas that I especially liked:


The graphics seemed on par with other AAA RTS games in the ancient warfare sub-genre. A great score for the Open Source community.

User Interface:

The Menus and UI were beautifully done.  The attention to detail was obvious all over 0 AD.


An area that I think needs work:

Game Smoothness:

The game gave me a few hick-ups here and there and became progressively more choppy the more units were on screen.  This however is understandable, being that 0 AD is still in the Alpha stage.



To get 0 AD go their site by clicking HERE.

To check out our Question and Answer session with Wildfire Games about 0 AD click HERE.

Post your comments below!



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Author: gwa2100 View all posts by

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