Thursday, May 07, 2009

XIII Century: Death or Glory debut game for new developer

Game companies must be like Hollywood studios. They seem to latch onto the same topics at the same time. When I was researching JoWood's "The Golden Horde", I came across a title by new developer Unicorn Games named "XIII Century: Death or Glory". It, too, deals with warfare across Asia and Europe in the 13th century although, in addition to the Russians and the Mongols you get the English and the French as well.

"XIII Century swaps the stereotypical grand campaign where you rule an empire for "campaign light" mission packs where you fight alongside the medieval armies of England, France, Germany, Russia, and the Mongolian hordes of Genghis Khan. Each of these collections features five separate historical battles that you unlock one by one. So the English start with Evesham then move on to Falkirk, Conwy, Lincoln, and Lewes. The Russians fight at Yaroslav, Torchev, Lake Peipus, Rakovor, and Lipitsa. The French take to the bloody fields of Taillebourg, Muret, Tagliarozzo, Benevento, and Bouvines. And so on. You get a pretty comprehensive tour of all the 13th-century hot spots by the time you work your way through all five nations and a set of bonus battles that open up as your rank grows through winning battles.

All this might seem a bit on the skimpy side to anyone coming off of an overwhelming epic like Medieval II: Total War. But since the battles here are so thoroughly depicted, it's hard to quibble with the warfare-centric focus. For starters, XIII Century is tough. Battles are founded on a rigorous rock-paper-scissors formula, so you can't just lumber about and rush foes with no consideration as to their relative strengths and weaknesses. This isn't a simple formula, either. Although many basics are in play here (keep cavalry away from pikemen, keep archers on high ground, that sort of thing), unit statistics are heavily detailed. This gives you a lot to keep track of during battles, which tend to fly by even at regular speed, but at least the interface provides ready access to everything you need to know. Moving the mouse cursor over unit formations provides banks of numbers detailing morale, number of wounded, whether or not the flanks and rear are covered, and so forth. So you can get instant snapshots of how your troops are faring when things are going hot and heavy, which lets you keep pace and give the right commands at the right times." - More: Gamespot

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