Elven Legacy: Siege – PC Game Review
The End Of A Forgettable Year (corrected link)
Elven Legacy: Siege. Paradox/1C $9.99 – Parent Game $29.99 from Gamersgate
Passed Inspection: Great graphics, fine interface, challenging AI, interesting missions
Failed Basic: Some message boxes disappear too quickly, minor difficulties in selecting units.
The evil AI is very clever, using numerous trash units to kill off weakened enemies.
The differences between fantasy strategy games and historical strategy games need not be as large as one would think. The units and weapons can be the same: infantry, cavalry, missile troops using swords, arrows and spears. Even magic can be equated to field artillery and weapons like flame throwers and bazookas. The differences come in the story line and how well the designers merge fantasy with believable tactics. Elven Legacy: Siege is the second add-on to the parent game. Ranger was the first; a third add-on, Magic, was published at the beginning of December. Siege continues the excellent system with a new campaign and characters.
Other Worldly Eye Candy
Graphics are top-notch with units depicted in detailed, 3D garb. Terrain in single-player missions and campaign missions is clear, useful and pleasing. The zoomable camera views provide any angle imaginable from top-down, bird’s eye to snake in the grass. Animation enhances the gaming experience. Figures move gracefully and combat seems realistic. Battles become especially interesting when detailed fights occur. These clashes are exciting and illustrate the fighting capabilities of unit types. The most spectacular sequence is the casting of spells. Mages are surrounded by unearthly, swirling light and then the spell flares out. The unfortunate target is hammered by flames, lightning, or ice storms that light up the screen in blinding fashion.
This graphic extravaganza has a practical side. Banners float over units and show health bars, boots if the units can move and weapons if they can fight. Hexes glow green to indicate acceptable paths with possible target hexes highlighted in red. Bouncing translucent gold or green arrows in the sky point out primary and secondary objectives. The situation is made clear with a mission map showing both enemy and friendly units, objectives and terrain. Cursors change to the appropriate weapons when moved over a target. The army and reserve bars have a period look and show the portrait of each unit with a health bar and indicators for a new level; more information on a selected unit can be seen at either end of the bar. Right-clicking on a figure brings up its attributes, special skills and any artifacts it carries.
The quality of sound effects equals the graphics with nice battle noise and cries of joy over a victory. On-screen tutorials do a good job teaching the basics while the fifty-page manual explains the deeper intricacies of play with very helpful illustrations.
The game mechanics are very simple. Units can move and fight each turn. Most units can attack units in range of missile and magic units or adjacent enemies for shock at beginning or end of a move. An important exception is scout units which have segmented movements, allowing them to move, fight and continue moving. Other special units are cavalry that can impetuously charge without orders, heroes who must be preserved, artillery and mages. Unique to this system are eagles that can fly over friendly and enemy units, acting both as air cover and tactical bombers. Evil units include monsters and very strong heroes. Each unit has five attributes such as attack, protection and movement. These attributes increase along with special abilities when experience provides a new level. All units appear as one figure in most views but most have a number of troops, which are visible in extreme close view
Images deserve special attention because of the variety of spells. Some are direct attacks like fire balls and storms. Others create protective spells for friends or generate special troops and monsters that will be under the player’s control. However, the number of spells a mage can use is limited.
Basic tactics for both the twelve single missions in the original game and the eighteen (nineteen for super players) in the campaign are the same. Each starts with a primary objective; secondary objectives pop up during play. A player who achieves fast victories at a high difficulty level will receive silver and gold trophies that increase the amount of gold the player receives. Distractions along the way are villages and structures that yield gold and artifacts. Artifacts can enhance unit capabilities, while gold allows players to buy replacements or new units if they are near friendly towns. Since the number of units per core army is limited, new units can be placed in reserve until needed.
Successful combat depends on unit position. Missile units, mages and some heroes are weak and need to be protected. Strung units should lead the compact formation with archers close behind as they will support any adjacent friendlies who are attacked. Cavalry and other strong units should cover the flanks or be kept in the back as a reserve and rear guard. Powerful enemies should be softened by missile fire or magic before being hit with repeated shock attacks. Unlucky units can break and retreat when enough hit points are lost. Partial or full recovery is possible with rest or replacements at places far from the enemy.
The evil AI is very clever, using numerous trash units to kill off weakened enemies. Strong units are held back near objectives to stall a drive. The AI can make life miserable by using villages as strongpoints that cover each other. In Siege, an apparently unseen wizard creates spells and new troops out of thin air. No mission is easy. Hot seat, LAN and Internet play are also available.
Siege’s campaign is the usual step-by-step progress, picking up clues and talking to people before destroying the baddy. Surviving members of armies are carried over after missions. Players can choose where to start the next mission. Such considerations seem secondary to the tactical considerations. Positioning troops and moving units to and from reserves are the heart of this game, one that should thrill all gamers.
Armchair General score: 89%
About the Author
Jim Cobb has been playing board wargames since 1961 and computer wargames since 1982. He has been writing incessantly since 1993 to keep his mind off the drivel he deals with as a bureaucrat. He has published in Wargamers Monthly, Computer Gaming World, Computer Games Magazine, Computer Games Online, CombatSim, Armchair General, Subsim, Strategyzone Online, Gamesquad and Gaming Chronicle.