by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Band of… warriors (cntd)
As your units gain experience, they acquire new skills and perks making them more useful and therefore more valuable. As surviving units will accompany you to the next mission, keeping experienced warriors alive becomes a major part of your every day tasks in the game. Most unit types have an upgrade path that is independent of the skills and perks that your units earn during combat. This allows you to continue to use your experienced warriors without having to starts from scratch by buying a new high-level unit. The upgrade path and skills system work so well that having to replace a deceased experienced unit with a fresh recruit really feels like a great loss which is a great incentive to keep your units alive.
Over time, Gylven gains some devastating magic that will help you soften up targets, spawn Spectral Warriors behind the enemy and much more. Especially the later stage spells can produce spectacular results and without her magic, some missions would be nigh on impossible to complete.
Combat is simple, but hardly straightforward. The maps are richly detailed and contain hills, plains, forests, swamps, rivers, settlements and fortifications. Each of these terrain types has an effect on both the attack and defensive capabilities of units. So far, it still sounds straightforward, but the skills and perks that you award to your units add a bit of variety to the mix. One perk could add a +2 defensive bonus on hilly terrain while another gives you a defensive bonus within urban areas. This could get rather confusing fast but the developers have implemented a context sensitive tool to help you decide which unit to place where. By selecting a unit and hovering over a square, you can see which bonus is applied to it when moving it there.
Occasionally the game takes a sidestep from playing as the elves, allowing you to play with a different race. During these missions, you see the storyline from a different perspective, giving you a broader view that would not be possible without it. While Elven Legacy is a tough game to begin with playing as the elves, these sidestep missions are perhaps the toughest of all due to unfamiliarity with the skills and characteristics of the units. They do offer a welcome change of scenery however.
Keeping the pace
I have had tremendous fun playing Elven Legacy and that was even despite the fact that all the voice work was still in Russian in the preview build. The story twists and turns numerous times and sometimes has you wonder if you are playing the good guys, or the bad guys. An oft-heard complaint about Fantasy Wars was that it was too old-school but to me that is one of its strengths. Elven Legacy continues in the same vein and I for one am delighted that it is.