by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Picking up some goodies
While traversing the countryside, your squad can hunt boat for food, search for treasure in the indicated areas and even harvest plants for their medicinal qualities. It is important to have enough food and medical provisions when travelling, because without it disease and starvation play a part in reducing your small party. A sick or injured party member cannot take part in the battles, so team management can become a task in itself.
As well as the provisions collected, various equipment points can be earned and found. These points can then be distributed to party members to improve their ranged, melee or defensive skills. It is here that gamers can customize their party somewhat. Sinking extra ranged weapon points into a Hunter can make him more accurate and inflict more damage, whilst giving him more defensive points can mean that he will survive a few more hits. This means that determining where to spend your points must be well thought out.
Battles are fought out in beautiful surroundings. The forest areas of the Central America locale have been beautifully represented in the game in much the same way as Sid Meier's Pirates. The landscapes while travelling are the same with dirt roads, lush forests and rocky outcrops all well rendered in the isometric view that old school RPG gamers would be used to. And for the most part all the information required is just a click or two away.
The background music helps to set the scene, playing a somewhat lively period style tune that never really gets annoying despite it seemingly being played in a loop. The sound effects aren't overly special, but suit the combat well, with rifle shots ringing out and sword slashes cutting the air as a sword swung. It is all standard fare but does an adequate job.
Worth a look
From what we’ve seen from the preview build (which seems largely complete), Expeditions: Conquistador certainly has a lot of potential. The turn based combat is easy enough to get into, especially since the battles are on a small scale, but to play well requires some tactics involving barricades (natural and man-made) and the abilities of the various units. The locales look lovely too, the jungles and small villages in particular. The background music also does a great job of setting the time period. The game could be a little on the slow side for action gamers, but for the older gamers amongst us, this could definitely be one to look out for later this month.