Publisher: Enlight Software
Developer: Enlight Software
Release Date: February 20, 2004
Buy 'WAR & WARRIORS: Joan of Arc': PC
The moment is at hand. Your every movement, every thought will either lead to your success…or failure. Thousands have pledged their loyalty to you. Thousands will follow your every movement. Thousands will die for you. Through the terror of war and the destruction of chaos, you will be given a chance. A chance to prove yourself. A chance to stand up for what you believe in. It is the promise of this chance which has brought you here this day, and set the ticking clock of fate in motion. History will long remember the events which will soon transpire. For you are the people's hero, the chosen one. You are Joan of Arc.
New for all you fantastical French fans is the game which has recently caught the interest of many gamers. Joan of Arc. With lots of hype and a little bit of glamour, this game is definitely filled with potential. Just this fact however, doesn't really say much about the game. While it had the potential to be a great game, did it really meet up to this level? And just exactly how does it compare with other combat simulations?
For the most part, this is a pretty straight forward game. Like many other fighting games, Joan of Arc utilizes a combo system with various moves. The only problem here of course is that these moves basically make up the whole game. I'm fairly confident that most gamers would classify this as a "hack and slash game". This repetitive feature doesn't help much. (more on that later)
In Joan of Arc, you will have the option of playing as a few of the most famous French military commanders of the time, including of course, Joan of Arc herself. This is a nice little addition to the storyline. While taking command of our favorite friendly French commanders, you will mostly play in a third-person perspective. While you may switch to first person occasionally, the standard view is a behind-the-back camera angle. While this may be viewed as a bad thing for some, in this case, it's actually quite wise. Third person seems to be the best angle to capture the action in a game like Joan of Arc. As stated before, this game is fairly straight forward. As a matter of fact, you will spend most of your time hunting down packs of English soldiers and putting them to rest. While these enemies come in all different shapes and sizes (including knights, pikeman, and archers), in most cases they won't prove to be much of a match for Joan. The difficulty in this game certainly isn't top quality. In most cases the enemies are very stupid and will easily fall into your hands, the only challenge, sometimes, is the sheer amount of enemy troops you might encounter.
While earlier I said this game was basically all hacking and slashing, there certainly is an RPG element to it. During the game, Joan can attack enemies with various combo moves. These are a combination of mouse clicks which you can perfect with time. As you gain experience points, you'll have the option of learning new combos, or improving old ones. This is definitely an attempt to make this game seem more like an RPG, and isn't a complete failure. As a matter of fact, it seems to blend with the game fairly well. Besides the skill building, there are other RPG elements as well such as using health potions to restore hitpoints, or being able to carry various weapons and items. Without this RPG-like feel, I think this game would have been a great disappointment. Luckily this was made part of the game, and merely adds to the enjoyment.
While this game certainly has positive points, there are some complaints I had along the way. First I wanted to say that in certain places in this game, the repetitiveness is definitely felt. While the game does attempt to bring new and exciting elements to the table, in the end it just can't escape from the overwhelming feeling that you've been here and done this same thing before. In any game this should be avoided, but in some I guess it's just not possible. In addition, I would have liked to see this game with a few more levels. While the game is not short, I just thought that maybe there should have been a few more levels to tack onto the end of the game's eight missions.
While I said before that the camera angle seemed to be the right one for the job, I didn't say that it was perfect. Far from it. There are multiple problems with the camera, ranging from bugs to frustrating rotations. For example, at random times during combat the camera will tend to swing to certain sides, completely blocking your view of the action. This forces you to adjust the camera just so that you can see. As you may imagine, doing so in the heat of battle isn't too smart. This is why the problems with the camera can become very annoying, and may at times even cause you to stop playing the game. And while we're at it, one last complaint. While the eight levels of this game are fairly large, I was disappointed with the all too familiar "invisible walls" which constantly blocked my every move. It seems like in a game like Joan of Arc, you should be able to explore the vast wilderness of the map, and choose where you want to go. This, sadly is not the case. I was very frustrated to find myself constantly blocked once I would reach the "edge" of the map. While I could see beyond, I wasn't able to travel there. Instead, I would have to follow the nice neat little paths which would lead me to my next destination. With this problem, the game basically shoots itself in the foot, as this really hurts the concept of being an "RPG".
Besides all of the negative comments, there are actually some good things to this game as well. I really liked the idea of being able to ride on horseback into combat. Not only this, but you are also able to switch over to a typical top down RTS mode, command your army's movements, and issue them orders. This is done with the help of an overhead map, where you are given the ability to make decisions for the soldiers of your army. While there are definitely problems with the horseback system and planning phases, I think they were a good addition to the game.
Another rather disappointing element was the AI of enemy soldiers. It's very sad to see a game such as this, where the enemy actually seems like they want you to kill them. They are completely predictable, and most times will just run straight at you, leaving themselves open for a quick combo attack. There is clearly no planning involved in this whole process, and at times will make you just laugh. Or cry, as you realize that this is as fierce as the enemy gets through all eight levels of the game.
Graphically, this game was not bad. I actually thought the graphics might have been one of this game's strong points. With not much else to rely on, this game was lucky to have such nice graphics. While they aren't spectacular, I think they are above average, and deserve to be recognized.
In issues of sound, it's a mixed bag. I really liked the soundtrack to Joan of Arc. I thought it added to the gameplay without a doubt, and helped to create that classic "warlike" atmosphere which action fans love. On the other hand, I thought the voice acting was pretty poor. Many times you can't even hear what is being said, but eventually you just won't even care.
Joan of Arc attempts to mix classic action with elements of strategy and RPG. While the final product may disappoint some, it still might be worth a try. So if you're interested, go for it. Just don't have your hopes too high…you may be sorry.
Score : 6.5/10