Review by y2mckay

"I wanted to love this game. I despise this game"

On the plus side, the graphics are decent (though nothing outstanding, especially after playing ''EMPEROR: BATTLE FOR DUNE''. The AI is pretty intelligent, attacking from all sides rather than from the same 1 or 2 directions like most RTS games do. The economic tasks of managing the castles resources and food production, as well as keeping your popularity high, is also fun. And I imagine this can be a fun multiplayer game, when both parties are starting out on equal ground.

But here's where This game and I part ways. The single player game balance is atrociously stacked against you. The first few missions are not too bad, but it becomes increasingly difficult until, halfway through, it is nothing but an exercise in frustration. The computer will often attack you with wave after succesive wave, having no apparent limit to it's resources (and no way for you to attack their production, since they enter from off of the map. Meanhwile, you'll have a dozen weapon factories cranking along and barely producing a few crossbow or maces at a time, certainly never fast enough to help you withstand the onslaught you are subjected too. Production of food and weapons takes WAY too long (although building troops and structures, once you have the resources, is instantaneous - at least they got something right). I finally gave up when I had to complete a mission in the campaign where the objective is to raise 6000 in gold. Sounds easy enough, until you factor in the facts that 1)if you charge too much in taxes, your popularity takes a nosedive and nobody will work/fight for you 2)the enemy AI is throwing a wave of 50-100 troops at you every five minutes (I am not exaggerating. It will often launch another wave before you can even finish dispatching the current wave) 3)You have limited space within your castle, so you must build farms and other industry outside to both feed your people and raise money. It is impossible to do both, however, when the enemy comes in and demolishes all your outlying buildings in under 2 seconds (again, I do not exaggerate. All it takes is two swings from a macemen, and any building, other than a castle wall, will go down).

I hate to sound like I'm whining, but this game is annoyingly, impossibly hard. Be prepared for many lost hours, failed attempts, and mission restarts. And this is all in NORMAL mode. I can scarce imagine what HARD and VERY HARD are like. The only way to advance, eventually, is to replay in Easy mode, which is about the only level in this game that lives up to it's name. It is easy. TOO easy, and not challenging at all. The enemy attacks with a handful of men, and your popularity never goes down. So all you do is watch crops grow for an hour. HORRIBLE play balance. If you're some kind of SIM-playing god, maybe you can keep track of all the miniscule details that go into producing a loaf of bread or a crossbow. The average Joe, like myself, however, is in for a rough road. I guess I'll have to stick to multiplayer, where at least the enemy won't have unlimited resources to throw at me every few minutes.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 02/27/02, Updated 02/27/02


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