Northern California may not be in the throes of any present gold rushes, but circa the mid-1800s, nugget fever was in full swing. It's a state of mind cheerfully captured in Westward III, a satisfying hybrid of real-time strategy game and life simulator which sends three all-new pioneers scurrying off to tame the wild frontier. A welcome, if predictable, step forward for the franchise, it quickly provides ample reason for series vets and newcomers alike to hop back in the saddle and hit the trail.
Upon starting, you're quickly introduced to a trio of fresh heroes: Cowgirl Polly Hatchet, handlebar-mustache-sporting general Amos Cutter and Native American adventurer Shawnee Longfeather. Whichever character you choose is quickly depicted in full 3D glory atop a virtual landscape covered in trees, scrub brush, rocks and other trappings of wild terrain.