Grand strategy on both PC and PS4.
Kalypso Media’s Grand Ages: Medieval is a grand strategy game that appeared only a short time ago on the PC, and is also now available on the PS4 console. With a similarity to Kalypso’s previous trading games, Grand Ages: Medieval sets the player to conquer Europe and the Middle East more through trade and the the power money than military might. The game is pretty much identical across both platforms, with the PC version obviously being ported to the console.
Grand Ages: Medieval sets out with a lengthy campaign mode designed to teach the player the intricacies of building an empire across this medieval world. Players will control a small town and will be tasked to build up this town, and indeed take control of others, through setting up trade routes and selling goods that other towns want, all for a profit of course. There are some twenty different goods to trade, giving scope for plenty of experimentation as the player tries to fill their coffers and expand their empire.
While the majority of emphasis is on trading and making agreements with other towns, the military still plays its part, and sometimes the only way forward is war. Players can develop their own military forces, with the likes of cavalry and archers being available, but the actual mechanics for war are limited. For those that enjoy the more strategic warfare of other titles, battles in Grand Ages: Medieval will seem simplistic. But fortunately war is rarely the only option available to the player.
As the player progresses, scouts can be sent out to discover new areas of the massive map, and settlers can establish new towns under your command. Only Europe is visible at the start of play on the map, but before long the clouds can be removed and larger areas will become visible. Players are also able to indulge in some research to further their empire, with a whole selection of advancements available to increase production or improve the capabilities of troops.
Playing the game on PC, everything runs smoothly and the game is surprisingly bug free, in comparison to many major releases on recent years. But problems arise in that the game lacks the depth that many PC gamers will be expecting. The AI works incredibly well and offers a challenge, but when compared with other trade empire games available, including those from Kalypso themselves, Grand Ages: Medieval feels lacking.
Beyond the campaign/tutorial, players also have access to open play in which a game can be as large or small as they wish, and multiplayer which will require a real commitment of time as players race to rule the medieval world.
When it comes to the PS4 version of Grand Ages: Medieval, players are treated to an almost identical game. The relative lack of depth may be of benefit for the console players, introducing them to a genre that is not traditionally available on consoles. However, the simple rock/paper/scissors nature of the combat will likely disappoint those coming to the game as a strategy title rather than a trading game.
Visually, both the PC and PS4 versions look really nice. The environments are impressive in both scale and detail. Troops could do with a little more detail, but are easily distinguishable. One major disappointment in the visuals is the lack of variety across the different settlements, with no regional styling to be seen. The developers have managed to pack in a TV friendly interface for the PS4 version of the game, which is really handy as the original interface is pretty much unreadable on the TV screen.
Grand Ages: Medieval manages to be a competent, if slightly shallow, trading empire game on both the PC and PS4. The game works well on the home console, which is an impressive feat in itself. As a grand strategy game, it lacks the depth if not the amount of time a player will need to invest. Grand Ages: Medieval is a niche game on both platforms, but if trading in a medieval setting is your thing, then PS4 players will find little else to fill that need. On the PC though, there are other more impressive titles available.