Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: 1C Company
Minimum requirements: Windows XP; 2.4 GHz Pentium IV or AMD 3500+ 2.2Ghz; 1 GB RAM; nVidia GF 6800 or ATI Radeon R850XT 256 video card; DirectX-compatible sound card; 3 GB of free hard drive space; DirectX 9.0c
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Release date: Available now
Odds are you’ll never see me sit down to play a hex-based strategy game of my own accord, yet I find that as more of them are assigned to me, the more my aversion to them subsides. With that personal aside out of the way, I’ll say that while not ideal, Elven Legacy does further whet my appetite for geometrically based strategy. Maybe these kinds of games aren’t so bad after all…
Here’s the story. A human sorcerer has broken into the local citadel and has escaped with the ability to cast a dark spell that can destroy the entire land. Naturally, he must be stopped, so the Elves, all magnificent and pompous, assign two of their greatest heroes to track him down. What follows is a trek across the fictional land of Illis, where towns must be captured; orcs, dwarves, zombies and other fantasy folk must be slain; and a halfway-decent plot seeps out in between missions.
Three difficulty levels are available, as are multiple paths to complete missions. But beware: the dialogue can sometimes betray the truth of the matter and lead you down a path that’s a lot harder than noted. It’s strategy central here; each move must be a calculated decision designed to complete the objective and keep your hero alive. To help along the way, each unit can be upgraded from a list of powers that affect things such as its attacks, defense and environmental modifiers. Air units are also here, but I found many of them to be too risky to send into battle. They crumbled like matchstick dirigibles almost every time!
What’s good about Legacy is that for $30 you get a fairly deep design that runs well on a Pentium IV, and can offer hours of replay value in the three campaigns and branching paths the story throws at you. This is not a revolution, but it sure is right up the alley of Civilization fans. The music isn’t half bad either, although it became even better when I turned it down a bit from its default setting. Understated is how I like my quest, and understated it was.
There are not-so-hot parts, too, which balance the scales and pull Legacy away from the “great” end of the spectrum. For one, the game is set in a stereotypical environment with stereotypical races fighting a derivative threat. It’s just not unique enough to set it apart from the bigger and swankier strategy games out there. Technically speaking, the visuals don’t add or take away from the experience, though I liked the small units when the zoom was pulled in all the way. It added a bit more scope to the experience. Voice acting is mute-worthy, and there are some interface hang ups, such as having to click two oddly placed buttons to continue the dialogue, or the inclusion of tutorials spoken in Russian. I also experienced some crashing, which I’ve heard has been addressed in a patch that should be available now.
While I don’t yet consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool strategy gamer, I feel the games growing on me. Elven Legacy did a good job of pulling me in, which is no small feat, but I must say that if you’re not as far along (or farther) than I am in your acceptance of the genre, then you might want to find something a little more impressive. There are just bigger and more delicious fish out there to fry.