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Review by: Keith Durocher
Published: September 23, 2004
Sometimes it can seem like all anyone wants to play these days are ultra-serious, ultra-violent “mature” games. Whimsy has fallen prey to gore and guts, and a good lighthearted belly laugh is as rare as a buck-toothed rooster. Amidst all this digitally rendered, pixel-shaded carnage is there any hope of a break, perhaps a chuckle bred not of nervous paranoia but a genuinely silly joke? The answer is yes, in this case served up by CatDaddy Games with their comical fantasy romp, Medieval Conquest. Here is a title that trades blood for cheesy punchlines, brutality for gags. Looking for some chuckles peppered with swords and sorcery fantasy? Then read on, this might be of interest to you.
Medieval Conquest is, to sum it up in the simplest possible terms, a 3D real-time strategy game mixed with some role-playing elements and a lot of humor. You play the latest pseudo-omniscient knightly lord of the realm, yet another champion on a quest to rid the lands of a recent surge in monstrous entities. The good King’s citizens have been plagued for some time by these beasties, and wouldn’t you know it, the King himself cannot spare the men to quell the problem. Many would-be protectors have failed in clearing these critters away, and as of yet no one even knows where they’re coming from. Here is where you enter the picture; through grit, determination, and nigh miraculous micro-managerial skill you will succeed where all others have failed. For the glory of the King with no name, and the Kingdom that is equally free from title, you shall triumph!
As the master tactician, you the player do not have an avatar. You are simply the puppet-master who runs the show. As well, you don’t have a single hero who acts as your liaison to a horde of lesser peons. All your minions are hired from the same place and level ever-upwards, so potentially all of your troopers can become mighty warriors. There are three types of units available to you: Ranger, Fighter, and Mage. Rangers are, well, ranged fighters who use bows exclusively. Their rate of fire is slow, however, they can deal damage at quite a distance. Fighters are hand-to-hand swordsman, the classic “knight” archetype; they’re great for swarming tactics. Finally, Mages are robe-wearing Merlin-types, complete with conical hats and gem-encrusted scepters. Their command of magic gives them the widest variety of attacks, from fireballs to sleep / hold spells and even some healing. They are truly the Swiss-army utility-hero, for the champion on the go.
Once you have hired as many minions as you can afford, you must then immediately begin tending to their wants and needs. This is really where the strategy comes into Medieval Conquest – micro-managing the necessities of life for your armies. There is no resource gathering or management, aside from gold. You gain gold by killing monsters and selling the scalps / hides to the Kingdom for the bounty, so it is essential that you keep your troops out in the wilds, reaping the financial rewards as well as gaining experience to level them up. Their requirements become more complex as they gain in power too, so it’s quite cause-and-effect.
The basic amenities are food, lodging, and entertainment. Each of these can be provided by placing down a building related to it. For example, to provide food, you slap down a Haddock’s Stand, which is just a tiny shanty that serves pickled fish and stale bread. Eventually your growing warriors won’t be satisfied by such low-brow fare, and will demand better victuals. Red Beard’s Shop, Blacktooth’s Steakhouse, and Grimshaw’s Pub will all eventually require purchase. There are four levels to each of your units’ needs, with commensurate cost upgrades as well. Once you have placed a building, you can purchase upgrades for them to increase their productivity as well. Using the food example again, you can spend some extra gold to improve the cook’s skill, as well as pay for increased cleanliness.
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