by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
March of the Eagles innovates most in the area of combat. I’ve rarely felt this much in control over what happens on the battlefield of any game, without actually going into the battlefield. Once engaged, armies still do their own thing, but prior to that there is a lot you can do to increase the chances of victory. Armies can have up to four leaders: one for the center, one for each flank and one for the reserves. Those with the patience to do so will love the ability to assign different brigades and generals to the various positions. Both brigades and generals will level up with experience and thus become more skilled. A top tier army may well outperform an untrained one even against the randomizing effects of the rolling dice.
Battle progress can be followed through a small window which shows the performance of each of the positions for both armies. It isn’t exactly Total War but it’s a fun bit of information that adds some dynamic to what would otherwise be rather dull battles.
At the end of the battle, a new window shows you the results of the battle. Among the more interesting statistics is the amount of prestige gained for winning the battle, which can be used as a ‘diplomatic currency’ of sorts. You also gain idea points which are used to purchase ‘ideas’ that advance your nation in areas such as combat effectiveness, economy and building speed. While a fun mechanic, it can be a little disheartening when, win or lose, the enemy gains a magnitude of the points that you do almost without fail. I am sure this was done as part of a balancing effort but in my mind, it is poorly done.
The game feels rock solid and the interface changes make March of the Eagles feel like a smooth ride. After twelve years of fine-tuning ‘Europa’ games, you would not expect anything less of course, but a few niggles remain. The mini-map, for instance, should allow for scrolling the campaign map while holding the mouse. As it stands, only clicking will work and the accuracy of that leaves much to be desired. A worse struggle, however, is trying to find out where a moving army is heading and when it will arrive. Knowing where an enemy army is moving is vital for your success but after all these years, you’re still asked to find an army destination and arrival date among a jungle of information about the makeup of the army in question. It’s driving me crazy while simply placing this information at the bottom of the window would solve the issue.
And lastly, the few province improvements that you make go by unnoticed. The only clue that an upgrade is finished is a yellow text that quickly fades in and out at the location where it has been built. Playing France, I spent most of my time conquering Great Britain, Prussia and Russia so I never even once saw an upgrade being finished. Every other event is managed through an ingenious system that allows you to read multiple windows at once when you are actually ready for them, not having events for upgrades seems like a terrible waste.
You’ve been here before
Playing a Paradox grand strategy game is a little like getting back together with an old girlfriend. The initial excitement of rekindling the old chemistry wears off a little too quickly and after you have discovered in what ways she has changed, you simply settle into a familiar, comfortable routine. If you have come back to her because your other adventures weren’t satisfying enough, you’ll be happy to spend more time with her. Others, however, will start to remember why they moved on in the first place and will start wondering why she’s still wearing her hair in the same style she did back then, and why her skirt length hasn’t kept up with the fashion world. March of the Eagles is a great game, but it’s the same game you have played before. If that is alright with you, then by all means, buy this ex-girlfriend today.
Great work was done on fine-tuning the interface.
Apart from the interface, there’s little to no innovation.