Change the course of history.
In the past I think I may have mentioned my lack of historical knowledge. It’s not that I am not interested in history. Well, ok, maybe it is. I just find it boring. But that doesn’t mean that I have no interest in historical strategy games. They are my favorite genre after all. Mind you, I can’t help but think that a slight interest in history would have helped along the way.
Take, for example, Lionheart: King’s Crusade – the latest offering from Neocore Games, the developers behind the wonderful, if slightly over-named, King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame. At least this game has a title that rolls off the tongue somewhat more easily. Anyway, the game is set between the years of 1189 and 1191 and puts the player in control of either Richard the Lionheart as he attempts to reclaim the holy land, or Saladin who must fight back the invaders.
Now, if I had any real knowledge of this period in history, I would at this point be impressing you all with dates and places of famous battles and such. As I don’t, you will just have to fill the historical gaps for yourselves.
Once again, like King Arthur: TRPW, this game is a strategy title first and foremost. But there is a healthy dose of role-playing to be found. Anyone who has played either the Total War games, King Arthur: TRPW or any of the other similar games, will already know the format. There are two campaigns to play through, each offering a different side of the conflict. Play begins with a map of the game world which is divided into different areas that the player must try to gain/keep control of. Players will find themselves having to contend with the various factions of the time – The French King, Holy Roman Empire, Templars and Papal Court.
Each of these factions need to be kept happy. Alongside the all out warfare, which I will discuss in a minute, there are missions to be had and certain missions may serve to please or annoy certain factions, causing positive of negative effects to your game. Each of the two campaigns are different enough to keep them fresh.
But the heart of the game lies in the battles and the troops that make up your army. Players are able to customise their soldiers, of which there are a decent selection to choose, with different equipment, weapons and potions. They can also be leveled up, over time, and given new skills or abilities that make them more than your basic troop type. It is here that the game really shines, giving the player a chance to invest so heavily into his troops that watching them fall on the battlefield can be really heart-breaking.
Also, being that this is a historical game rather than one based in fantasy, such as King Arthur, there is no magic to be found. But what we have instead is the stuff of conspiracy theories, Holy Relics. These relics can be carried into battle by your various heroes to give the troops certain bonus’.
The overall presentation of the game is to quite a high standard, with some really stunning looking battlefields to fight on. But, sadly, the animations of the troops themselves leaves a bit to be desired and in the heat of battle, the whole thing becomes a bit of a blur.
There is plenty in this game that will keep RTS fans happy and I have certainly enjoyed my time playing it, even with my near complete lack of historical knowledge. Although the game will likely not change the minds of any RTS haters, it is fairly easy to pick up and get to grips with, so would make a good game for the novices out there. There are a few bits to be improved upon. But maybe on October 8th when the game launches, all of the wrinkles will be ironed out. It will also then be a chance to get into the multiplayer, an area that a game of this type can truly shine.
Lionheart: King’s Crusade can be pre-ordered from GamersGate