by Marko Susimetsä, reviewed on
Changing the name
In 2007, 1C / Ino-Co released a game called Fantasy Wars that was a simple turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy world where orcs, elves and humans battled against each other. At the time, I seem to have accused them of having chosen one of the dullest possible names for their game and it appears that they actually heard me and decided to name the sequel Elven Legacy.
Keeping the content
Still, even though the name has changed, the game is still very much the same – it even continues the story told in the first title and you see at least some familiar names popping up in a surprising contexts. You still head small parties – referred to as armies – across pretty terrain and play simple tactical battles against various enemies on small maps. Therefore, if you hated the original, you need not continue reading this review. But if you happen to be one of the people who liked or even loved the original, please, read on.
The major attractor and perhaps the only reason one played through the entire campaign in Fantasy Wars was the story that bound each individual confrontation together. Since the game mechanics have hardly changed, the developers are clearly aiming to have an equally interesting story to tell in Elven Legacy.
In Elven Legacy, the usually reclusive elves are forced to march onto the lands of humans and orcs as they chase after a powerful mage who has got his hands on an ancient elven secret. Elven heroes Gilven and Seagate – sorry – Gylven and Sagittel (the developers themselves cannot keep the names straight even on the official game site) lead the small elven force in pursuit of the mage and end up in a series of skirmishes with pretty much every other race in their world.
Besides the main story delivered in the campaign mode, there are 16 multiplayer scenarios involving only a single battle map to choose from with simple goals to achieve for different sides in the battle. The multiplayer allows up to 4 players to play against each other, but the review copy did not have this feature activated, so we didn't get to test it. In addition, there are some single mission maps for single player, offering quick challenges for busy gamers.
The untried army
The initial elven forces consist of untrained conscripts, because it is naturally the sort of army the elves want to send on an important mission like this. Why train your men when they can just as well get their training in the field of battle? Why try to catch the evil mage with trained forces when it is so much more exciting to see how your Youth Club members can handle the task? Conveniently, the units garner experience from battle and get promotions (level-ups) and extra abilities as they slowly learn the best ways to use the surrounding environment to their benefit and how to use their bows. In gameplay terms this means that you can, for example, promote archer units to have extra range for their arrows, or give them further advantage in forests or against certain types of enemies. As in the original, normal units cap at level five, but hero units can go as high as level ten and can thus gather a very large selection of special skills and abilities.
When you handle yourself well in the field of battle – that is, when you win your encounters – you get rewarded some gold that you can use to buy better and improved units or train your original Youth Club members into more advanced units. However, the prize money is never high enough to allow you too much leeway. If you lose one of your most powerful units (such as a dragon) by mistake in a mission, you should probably reload since the next mission expects you to still have that unit and you won’t have enough cash to buy a replacement any time soon.
Wonderful user interface
The user interface in Elven Legacy is very user-friendly. Actually, it seems not to have been improved much since the original. But that is all right since the UI in Fantasy Wars was already one of the most intuitive that I have seen in war games. You can rotate your view, zoom in and out, and basically get as much information about the situation as you possibly can before you commit to your actions. When you activate a unit, you will immediately see the distance it can move that turn and which units it may attack. You will also see the health of your units and those of the enemy without having to browse through any charts whatsoever.
No Pros and Cons at this time