Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: 1C: Ino-Co
Release Date: April 7, 2009
While it's true that turn-based strategy games have been done to death and the realm of high fantasy hardly bodes well for crafting an original and exciting game, these two tastes have come together for the creation of Elven Legacy, and, perhaps not so surprisingly, they taste great together. What at first glance appears to be yet another ho-hum game set in the same boring old world quickly turns into an original, deep and fun affair that is set to provide a great deal of entertainment for gamers in the very near future.
Elven Legacy is technically a sequel to Fantasy Wars, but it strikes off on its own narrative. It seems that a pesky human mage has gotten his hands on a forbidden spell, and the elves are worried that once he begins teaching it to other humans, things are going to turn very ugly, very quickly. The elves decide they have no choice but to give a chance to the rogue mage, but doing so leads them across the territory of other races, meaning that war is sure to follow.
The game's campaign mode will feature a branching mission structure, allowing players to choose their own adventure and offering incentive to come back and play through the story line again and again. The focus is on the elves, meaning they'll be the faction you spend the most time controlling, but there are some secret bonus missions that feature humans, dwarves and the like if you're talented enough to unlock them.
Gameplay is your standard turn-based, hex-based affair with a myriad of units and options available every turn. Each unit has a set number of movement points, and terrain houses certain bonuses for certain troops. Archers get a boost when they fire from hills, and defenders are nearly impregnable when set up behind city walls. All told, there are over 100 different units to choose from, ranging from infantry and cavalry to aerial troops, dragons and more; each can gain levels and earn upgrades. In addition, the game features five hero characters who have access to some pretty impressive powers that allow them to lay waste to large hordes of baddies pretty much single-handedly. These heroes can also be leveled up, meaning that with a few battles under your belt, you'll quickly build up a rather formidable fighting force.
While the strategy is turn-based, the battles play out in real time, and players can zoom in and watch the carnage up close. The visuals in the title look crisp and clean, and the struggles are realistically violent and satisfying to watch. They're all basically little things, but they add up to a pretty game.
The developers are also emphasizing accessibility, noting that the game is going to be welcoming to newcomers and feature plenty of tutorials and helpful hints to get even casual strategy fans interested. In a genre often beset by countless menus and numbers that even developers don't understand, it's refreshing to hear a company talk candidly about the need to make strategy games more welcoming to non-hardcore players. Don't worry; the game isn't being dumbed down to the point where a 4-year-old could bash at the keyboard and win, but it is going to make it so you won't need to spend hours poring over stats before you can select units for your next fight.
In a crowded market, it will be difficult for Elven Legacy to stand out and garner a lot of attention, but the pieces are in place to make a game that both hardcore and more casual fans can enjoy. If you're looking for a turn-based strategy game featuring elves and fantasy lore, then this one might scratch your itch.
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