Written by  :  kbmb (435)
Written on  :  Feb 15, 2003
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A fairy unremarkable contribution to the ever-expanding RTS genre.

The Good

The graphics are superb. Never before has zooming close into the battlefield looked so detailed and so un-RTSlike. Looking at a screenshot of a typical soldier standing amidst the fields and forestry of the screen, you would not think this was an RTS game. Units are extremely detailed, which is obvious when you can zoom in to the point where you can almost count the nose hairs on your soldier.

Buildings also, for the first time ever, I think, LOOK like they might as they're being constructed. It doesn't go so far as to animate the actual placement of each individual board and brick, but you watch as it starts from rock and wood, to the frame, to the doors, windows, every step of the way. No more "33% done" image, then "66%" done image, followed by the constructed building. Well, you know what I mean. I suppose this can be considered a minor detail to some, but it always annoyed me how a building can jump from a pile of rubble to a fully operational barracks in a flash. And it looks just as good coming down as it did going up! As your units tear down enemy buildings, you watch as the building collapses in as many steps as it took to build. The flames also look great for an RTS game.

A change of seasons is a nice touch, with various highs and lows that come from it. You can use it to your advantage or it can destroy you, so an additional strategy involved has much to do with location and how prepared you are for the coming winter.

Upgrades to units can give them special attacks, which can be devastating in battle.

The Bad

There really isn't much in Highland Warriors to seperate it from the dozens of other RTS' out there. Aside from the graphics and the change of seasons, gameplay, once again, comes down to "build big army, CRUSH ENEMY ARMY YARRRR!" And quite frankly, I've never seen snow block my path to the enemy, but I'll take their word for it that it does. I'd sure like to see it, though.

While the graphics are great, animation is laughable. Your units can walk clear accross your village in about three footsteps. It's slow and just awkward. The biggest thing wrong with the animation is that they don't move fast enough. Not the units - they actually move surprisingly fast - but the animation. If they actually moved at the speed the animation shows them moving, it would take them ten times as long to get anywhere.

Every screenshot I've seen of this game shows a massive army on the screen. This gives the impression that the game is ABOUT building a gigantic army and raiding the enemy. That would be cool, except that the population limit is only 200! A reasonable cap, to be fair (though I stand by my argument that it should always be user-defined unless in a scenario!) but that's not enough to build any army larger than the ones you see in the screenshots. A large army to be sure, but with the screenshots seemingly giving emphasis to the gigantic army sizes, I think they took a wrong turn somewhere.

There are about a dozen different armies to play as, but if there's a difference between them I've never seen it. Some armies get swords instead of spears, and they all get different heroes, I think, but other than that there's no real difference.

A severe lack of unit types is also a really bad mark on this game. Here's what you get: villager, regular melee guy, better melee guy, good melee guy, ranged unit, and melee horse guy and ranged horse guy, with a hero. That's it. You can upgrade them once, and that's it. Hardly a memorable battle when four hundred identical twins are going at it and you can't tell who's who.

Some upgrades are more dangerous to your own units than your enemy! When the axe-fighter gets his twirly-upgrade, he'll twirl around in battle, hurting everyone around him, including your own men! You could very likely end up doing more damage to your own units!

The Bottom Line

I, personally, enjoy real-time strategies very much. Whether they're good or not, I love them. Sadly, despite the great graphics and Highland theme (which I normally enjoy) there just isn't much to this game to make it stand out.

But, if you've got a buddy to play with, and some time to kill, I think you would enjoy Highland Warriors.