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SummaryAvoid this game at all "costs"!
The GoodSitting here at 4:00am, I can't believe I played the game for 3 hours. Though the redeeming features are few and far between, they're are 2 areas where the company deserve praise. 1.The fact that the dialouge which your troops say in-game is actual Irish (though in Scotland they speak Gaelic which isn't the same as Irish - so its technically incorrect, it was still a nice touch and credit is due. However this is an example of misdirected attention to detail. More concentration on refining the gameplay, then you can prioritise other features. 2.The graphics are pretty in places, however, the graphics are also the downfall of the game in my opinion. The cutscenes often are quite pretty, but nothing special by todays standards at all. The likes of "Mafia" cutscenes make this game look prehistoric 3.One or 2 handy little refinements to the system, like selecting an unoccupied troop or slave with the click of a button.
The BadOh lord where do I begin? 1.The "oh-so-pretty" graphics are so jerky and awkward that it completley wrecks the game and makes me feel nauseous. On a p4 1.8ghz, with 256 DDR Ram, and an Nvidia MMX 440(64mb) - I could see no noticable difference in graphical quality between my other programming pc, an athlon 1000 with 32mb Nvidida TNT and 300 SDram. Troops can suddenly teleport across the map, reminiscint of the "chrono-trooper" in Red Alert 2 due to some awful bugs. The majority of the bugging in the game was graphical I found. 2. Each level in the different campaigns were almost identical. Okay, so you know what to expect when you purchase a game like this .....build a big army, crush a rival big army. Well the problem is, you can only build 200 units max, and given that you need about 150 slaves, that leaves about 50 units with which to battle the enemy. Not fun at all, in fact it kinda defeats the purpose of game. 3.The feature of unit formation - wedge, circular, square or skirmish, may aswell not have been in the game. They make virtually no difference to gameplay. Admittedly I was expecting to see something similar to "Shogun: Total War" 4.Unit "special features" should be renamed "self destruct". The special features are pointless and simply damage your own troops. 5.Once engaged in battle, a unit cannot rout. I was thoroughly disgusted by this, because a tactic I love to use (especially in the likes of Shogun) is to "send in a lone ranger and have about 6 platoons waiting around the corner". This is not possible in this game, among many other things. 6.When a slave has enough experience, they may advance to the level of master-craftsman costing 15 gold. I just found this stupid. Firstly, given that they are promoted due to experince, they should automatically advance themselves. Secondly, it was a lame attempt to add something unique to the slave hierarchy. Its about as exciting and revolutionary as picking your nose. 7.The game has one or 2 excellent features which are an improvment on other games of the similar style as already mentioned such as accesing unoccupied units with the click of a button or getting a scout to automatically explore the map, however, it frequently stumbles at critical points which its predecessors rectified years ago. I could go on, but I wont.
The Bottom LineThe reason the game has been marked down(I bought it for 15 in Game which was 50% off) is for a very good reason i.e nobody wants to play it. If it had been released prior to Age of Empires 1 by Microsoft, it would have been quite enjoyable, if not a breakthrough. However, it astonishes me that a game which was so obviosly based upon the AOE series would not even have the same level of development of a game which was released 5 years ago! I can't recommend this game on any level - even down to the graphics
I cannot comment on the multiplayer aspect of the game because I felt so disturbed by the single player, i felt the trauma of multiplayer would send me over the edge completley.
I do feel sorry for the programmers, as it is obvious they put a lot of effort into the game......just in the wrong places. Heres a hint which I find useful when writing software - test it yourself.
Heres my last word on the game: What it tries to do is combine the engine of Age of Empires 1 & 2, the battle system of "Shogun: Total War", and the harvest/re-arm style major war of the command and Conquer series. My advice would be to purchase any of these games instead of Highland(especially now that they can all be picked up for budget prices), to get that particular aspect which you are searching for. Instead