by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
We had a chance to look at Disciples III: Renaissance earlier this month at GamesCom. It was the first time we saw the game in action in quite some time and Akella had lots to show.
The game starts with a short introduction to the background story, after which it is time to pick sides. Disciples III has three playable factions, each different from the other two. The human race is represented by the Empire, then there is the Elven Alliance and the last is the Legions of the Damned, lead by an Elven warlord turned evil. In addition to choosing a faction, you will also need to choose a class for your heroic or malevolent lord. Depending on your personal preference, you can play as a magic wielding Archamage, a powerful Warlord or a skilled spy in the form of Guild Master.
For each faction there is a unique campaign with its own story which bodes well for the game's replay value. Factions also have their own primary source of mana for casting spells. Additional mana types become available as you progress to the game that enables you to cast more advanced spells.
When we entered the game map, we immediately noticed how fluidly characters move along their ordered routes and how much detail could be found in both characters and the game world itself. The combat animations would prove to be even more impressive when we first entered a battle. Contrary to peer games such as Heroes of Might and Magic and Elven Legacy, Disciples is known for its dark and gritty looks. Naturally, Disciples III continues this trend, offering an unsurpassed and wonderfully gloomy setting. The stylish ivory, black and grey tones are supported by dark browns and greens and occasionally brightened up by blood-red to give the game a very dramatic look.
Each of the scenes we saw looked unique, which is for a large part thanks to the 270 different objects in the game, each outfitted with great attention to detail. Better yet, not all of the objects are static either: you can interact in one way or another with over a hundred of them.
Going into battle, one of the first thing you will notice are the ominous looking spots on the map, These sports are power nodes that can enhance the abilities of any unit that stands on them. Place the right unit on one of them and you can deliver massive carnage to your opponent or even multiple opponents if you have it hogged by something able to deliver splash damage or other types of damage that affect an area rather than a single unit.
In battle too, the unit animations are incredibly smooth. I was dumb smacked seeing the differences in movement between each of the factions. While humans move pretty much like a bunch of guys on a walk through the park, Elven units looked almost regal as they gracefully moved through the fields. Compared to human archers, who don't make a big fuss about the way they shoot their arrows, Elven archers look far more impressive as they kneel down and ready their bows to rain destruction upon their targets. The Legions of the Damned looked very intimidating, acting like a band of ruffians and trudging along without a care in the world. One particular unit, a bulky monster that appeared to be the lovechild of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and Godzilla, carried its master along in its pouch and seemed to cause the ground to tremble with each step it took.
We were only shown an Elven city but that looked absolutely gorgeous and tasted like more. Cities feel more alive than in the previous two games and you can zoom in and out freely to admire their features. If a city is under your control, you can use it to reinforce and upgrade your troops. The latter is done by upgrading their equipment using the gold that you have obtained by defeating enemy armies and by completing quests.
Disciples III: Renaissance looks like it is going to be a wonderful addition to the collections of Turn-Based Strategy fans. The love and care that is being put into the game by the developers is palpable on every map, during every battle and every intermission. This is one game that fans of the genre can't afford to miss.