Elven Legacy - PC - Review
Elves, orcs and the undead in a turn-based strategy game, hmm, sounds like Heroes of Might and Magic. While the setup and look of the game is similar to HOMM, Elven Legacy is a bit different. Almost the entire focus is on the battles, and less so on collecting artifacts and exploring. There are magic spells used in the battles, though, as in Heroes of Might and Magic.
This is not to say that there is only bloody mayhem and no finesse. Like any good turn-based strategy game, players will be able to take plenty of time in planning out all their moves to take down the enemy as quickly as possible. Many of the missions reward players for accomplishing the quests in a set number of turns, which is a fun incentive.
The basic story is that you are the Elves, and you want to kick every other race’s butt. You don’t care why, you just do. It is your right, because you are superior in every way. Even your women have bigger breasts than other races’ women. To prove this, you have your females wear very skimpy armor.
Players can choose to either play a standalone mission, or a campaign mode. There is a tutorial, too, but the interface is simple enough and the first missions easy enough that it really isn’t necessary. Enjoy these first few easy missions, because the difficulty ratchets up to a high level early on, even in the easy level. I’ve played many turn-based strategy games, and while I’m not the smartest tactical player out there, I’m not the worst, either. I found the easy level to be about my speed the first time through these missions.
Basic units are available in the beginning, and are the usual range and melee fighters. There are also air units that add a different battle type than in many fantasy strategy games. The units can move and/or strike, depending on the distance from the enemy. A grid can be toggled on or off and the possible movements are highlighted.
At first, the units are generic units that are the same according to each unit type. Later in the game, however, players can add skills to their units and make them unique. This is pretty cool, but it can be traumatic to lose these specialized troops in battle, when so much work has gone into them. This feature is similar to the hero system in Heroes of Might and Magic, where heroes could be built up by having them fight and assigning them artifacts to boost defense and attack levels.
And lose them you will, because of the unfairness of the combat ratio in many cases. In the beginning of the game, the battles are simple affairs that have enemies coming out of a town to attack, and there aren’t that many more than the number in the player’s party. Soon enough, though, it will begin to feel like there are waves and waves of enemy units attacking with no end in sight. Even if the player’s units are strong enough to beat off all the attacks, they will usually suffer heavy losses.
This is frustrating due to the nature of the winning requirements for each mission. The missions mostly involve traveling to a certain destination to accomplish the quest, whatever that may be. The problem is that success is measured by the number of turns that take place before the quest is finished. Each increment of minimum turns earns a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award. If the minimum number of turns is reached before the goal, it’s mission over, period. It’s fun to have extras awarded for a set number of turns, but it is not fun to be punished by having to begin again if the goal isn’t met.
Everything looks good, and the frequent automatic zooming in many of the battles increases the player’s sense of engagement in the fights. The colors are vibrant, and the animations are nice. On very close ups, the characters look blocky, but further away they are more appealing.
The first missions are the Elves; when those are finished, players can play a second Human campaign. There are also bonus missions that can be unlocked by nailing the Gold standard level for the missions, but that is very hard to do, given the insane lopsidedness of the battles in later missions.
All in all, Elven Legacy is a decent turn-based strategy title that offers some good entertainment, especially given the dearth of new TBS titles out right now. It is similar in many aspects to HOMM, but it isn’t in the same league. However, it does offer some good strategic depth and plenty of missions. The main problem is the unfairness of the AI and the winning requirements of the missions. Having to restart over and over again isn’t any fun at all. Elven Legacy is best suited to hard-core turn-based strategy fans, despite the misleading easy interface and simple menu system.
Review Scoring Details for Elven Legacy
Elven Legacy offers some good entertainment and has the ability to suck players in, but about midway through the game many players will become tired of the unfair difficulty and quit. There aren’t enough extra features aside from the battle strategy to keep most players going.
The bright and colorful graphics are attractive and appealing. Close-ups reveal some blockiness, but a normal zoom is quite adequate.
The music is average, but not annoying. A more orchestral score would have been better.
The game begins simply enough, but later missions are very difficult, even on the easy level. The main problem is the amount of enemy units as compared to the number of player units for a given battle.
This type of fantasy setting has been done many times before, but the execution is good.
This is a slightly above average strategy title that offers some good strategic gameplay. However, many players won’t stick with it because of the difficulty of finishing the missions from about the middle game onward. I enjoy a challenge as well as the next player, but I don’t enjoy utter failure time and time again. I imagine others would feel the same. This is a game for the super-buff strategy player out there.