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MundaneRaptor

Real Warfare 2: Northern Crusades Review

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by , 12-03-2011 at 12:15 PM (2607 Views)
A Mundane Review
-By MundaneRaptor

Section 1 - First Impressions:
The game seems somewhat inspired by games like Stronghold Series and Rome: Total War; graphics appear to be very chessboard-like and are more representative of unit command on a strategic map. Don't get me wrong the game appears be very well rounded and a morality engine that determines the nature of your warring faction's army based upon how you use them is a break-through feature; however I expect the game-play to be very familiar based upon previous castle sims and real-time strategy I've played in the past. The game seems more focused on unit control on the open than siege defense but still seems to capture that medieval battle scheme very well, and familiar gameplay will allow me to take more advantage and enjoyment of the more unique aspects of this game's unit features.
I'll fill you all in with 'Section Two - The Lowdown' pending a full evaluation of the game's single and multi-player. Stay Tuned.

Section 2: The Low-Down
After playing the game extensively it’s time for a spoiler free part two. So… Once more unto the breach!
Overall my reception of Northern Crusades is of a fairly well rounded medieval strategy adventure; in it you will be dealing with the political dilemmas of the single-player and multiplayer with the ruthless (and I do mean ruthless) efficiency of the era’s diplomatic playbook. To be blunt, things will get rather sharp and pointy about five minutes in and remain so.

The graphics are well implemented and although it is not the most intense visual experience I’ve seen, the art direction gives the game a very seamless feeling with everything appearing to fit into the world with textures almost as sharp as the blades, axes, and armor they’re rendered on. The audio is, though filled with semi-corny dialogue (which is of course obligatory for real-time strategy games); a pleasant soundscape of screams and swords that will draw you into the world of northern crusades and keep your attention.

The gameplay is very solid but don’t expect any castle-sim mechanics as seen in the stronghold series; my first impression was wrong in that sense. This game is much closer to unit mechanics and large battlefields with neatly ordered groups that slug at each other in the way that wars were fought once upon a time. One disappointment was that while positioning forces was key in a rock, paper, scissors mechanic of ‘pikes to horsemen’, ‘arrows to infantry’, and ‘swordsmen protect your archers’ sense, there was no real mechanic for ambushing from cover, having the high ground, or simply flanking; it didn’t make the game any less fun, but it will be a disappointment for those seeking a more realistic combat experience. The one aspect present in that regard though was undoubtedly the advantage of ambushing an enemy through a choke point. Being able to catch a force that was foolish enough to move through an enclosed area in a line formation or column made for great fun that at times could even turn the tide of an entire battle session.

Northern Crusades has a map (or travel) mode outside of battle matches in single-player, this mode is where the storyline of the game, territory attrition, and player economics takes place; while some other games will have you managing the economy like some kind of medieval monarch (whether you were actually the monarch or not in the game is not withstanding) the economy of Northern Crusades manages itself, you are merely one player (abet eventually a large one) in a much larger market which (unless you’re the pope or Charlemagne) is quite an apt simulation of an area’s economy. Multiplayer lacks the map mode and merely allows players to select starting resources and buy units before having at each other.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the game and find it a great experience should you enjoy medieval strategy RPG; a word of caution to casual gamers however, even though they are optional, it’s best to play the tutorials before diving in as this game does have a lot of aspects to manage. It’s not rocket science, but taking a moment to learn how the game works will prevent inevitable frustration during the obligatory twenty minute learning curve all strategy games have.

Have fun folks, and see you on the field of honor!
Section 3: Ratings
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay – 7/10
Multiplayer - 8/10

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