SummaryA poor RTS, but a much better action RPG.
The GoodThe action part of the game is quite good. Mowing through hordes of enemies, you gain experience and gold to upgrade your moves and equipment. The controls are simple and responsive, and the core game of destroying the English army is well designed.
The levels are of interest due to the size. While there aren't that many, each one will take a long time to complete. A regular level might feature one or two large castles, along with several smaller towns. The maps are swarming with enemies, to the point that you can easily kill over a hundred English soldiers per map.
The BadWhile the box touts "a Prefect Blend of Action and Strategy", this is false. Instead, the strategy portion of the game is markedly inferior to the action portion. As an example, you do not have unfettered scrolling when in strategic view. Instead, you can only scroll a few screen lengths away from the focused general. This means that to send troops from the barracks to the front lines either requires careful positioning of your generals, switching focus between them as the troops advance, or sending a nearby general with your troops. Either way will take several minutes, and require giving orders repeatedly, just to do an action that would take one or two clicks in a regular RTS.
This is not to say that the action portion of the game is without problems, though. One of the biggest problems is dealing with interior spaces. Quite simply, the camera is not good enough to deal with some of the castles in the game. As much of the game centers around attacking enemy castles, this weakness is encountered repeatedly.
The other problem with storming castles is simple to avoid, but can cause immense frustration if encountered. Basically, if you bring several troops with you, and walk into a narrow corridor, it is possible to get stuck between two troops. While it is possible to get unstuck, doing so will take some time. Thankfully, Joan of Arc is quite capable of taking over major castles with no backup, but this bug can easily create a problem when attempting to bring backup.
Unfortunately, the AI isn't particularly good, either. Large groups of enemies sit out in the open, and wait for you to get close enough to trigger a response. In combat, they are predictable enough to pose no challenge. The bosses are tougher, (at least partially due to their use of heath-restoring food, which completely eliminates the usefulness of their health bar...) but once you understand the patterns, killing them is just a matter of time.
The Bottom LineI found the best way to enjoy this game is to spend all your time in the action mode, only moving to the strategic mode when you either need to move cannons (to open gates) or generals. If following this path, the game becomes quite similar to the Dynasty Warriors series, and is much more enjoyable. Plow through the innumerable foes, upgrade your stats and equipment, and save France from the English.