by Sergio Brinkhuis, reviewed on
Elven Legacy: Siege is the second expansion to, you guessed, Elven Legacy. The Turn-Based Strategy title by Paradox Interactive may not have won everyone over but did provide ample play time to fans of the genre. As I am one such fan, I was eager to sink my teeth into this expansion and see how the gameplay had evolved since the original game that was released back in April. Chewing away at Siege, however, I found surprisingly little that one could add the label ‘evolved’ to.
The game takes us back to the now familiar Elven Legacy universe. Lord Sagittel, one of the main characters from the original game, does little to refrain his Elves from venturing into human occupied lands. Events are spiralling out of hand when a human knight and a human ranger deem the time right to take action against the Elves. Sagittel, fearful of the human armies now gathering at his borders, runs for safety with the humans hot in pursuit. You, the player, will take command of the human forces attempting to catch Sagittel and bring him to justice.
As before, the game’s story is only used to string the various missions together. There are no cut-scenes and everything is done with text and text alone which gets old rather fast. In fact, I tended to quickly click through the discussions of the characters unless something happened during a mission and new directions or objectives were given out. It is a shame that there is so little to draw the player in. A well developed story would have done much to add to the overall enjoyment of the Elven Legacy games.
Then again, I wasn’t expecting the storyline progression to change compared to Elven Legacy (or Fantasy Wars before that -Ed). What I was hoping for, however, were subtle changes that would improve the Turn-Based gameplay of the original. Unfortunately, there are none. Pretty much everything from the original game has been recycled. The units, maps, towns and objects have all been copy pasted over from the original and so has the sound. And it doesn’t stop at the cosmetics. The actual gameplay is completely the same as well.
Exactly the same? Well, almost. Where the original game could be incredibly challenging at times, Siege’s missions border on the impossible when played on normal level. Completionists will likely feel undone even at the “easy” setting as even then you are hard pressed to take over every town and explore every ruin on the map. This may sound like a complaint, but it actually adds to the sense of urgency that your troops experience as they pursue Sagittel’s flight across the country. I found I enjoyed the game a whole lot more once I got into the ‘speed is of the essence’ theme of the game. Suddenly, the need for exploration dropped off my 'to do' list, letting me go straight towards my goal.
And even then the odds are often stacked against you. The enemy’s presence on the maps is overwhelming at times and dislodging an enemy troop from a fortified city can be tough even at easy levels. This is in no small part due to the clever way that the AI plays out its own offensives. For example, your opponents will willingly expose themselves to your army if they see a chance to remove your ballistae from the equation. Without those, breaching through castle walls becomes nigh on impossible. On the defence however, the AI trusts too much on terrain bonuses and will depend on whatever ranged units it has sitting behind its first line of defence.
Not quite there
Now, I fully understand that an expansion is supposed to recycle and bring more of the same. Yet if you consider that you will spend maybe eight to ten hours in Elven Legacy: Siege without seeing much you haven’t seen before, you might wonder if the game is worth the purchase at all. The only way to lengthen those ten hours is to attempt to achieve gold victories for each mission which will more likely turn into a lesson in frustration than a fun experience. Furthermore, Paradox plans to release a total of three expansions which prompts me to wonder out loud why these haven’t been merged into one big expansion. Ultimately, Elven Legacy: Siege is not likely to win over any new players. Its die-hard fan-base, however, will certainly enjoy the challenges that Paradox have prepared for them in this game.
The same original take on Turn-Based gameplay from the original.