reviews\ Feb 3, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Highland Warriors - PC - Review

Okay, so we’ve all played RTS games before.  You build up your town by working your peasants in different industries, build barracks to produce soldiers, and the various upgrade structures or strategies are available.  Let’s see where Highland Warriors succeeds. 

It all starts with a scenario.  In Highland Warriors, you get to be some pretty cool people.  The Scots are a rough hills people who like to swing axes and swords twice their size.  Pick from the clans of the Camerons, the MacDonalds, or the MacKays.  The English who are above all else proud and believe that Scotland is theirs by right are available too.  Choose one for a trip through history.  Who you choose will give you the option of different types of troops to fill your army. 

Now there is conflict, obviously everyone wants Scotland, so let’s fight!  I like the GUI interface for the game.  It allows you to easily control troops by mainly using the mouse, but if you are like me, it’s faster to use the keyboard as well.  You’ll find that grouping your units is easy, and very effective for winning battles especially for keeping your army big and experienced.  You gain bonuses as your soldiers gain experience.  You’ll find them acquiring new traits or special effects such as magic.  Try not to waste them even though the production of new soldiers is easy to do by maintaining a good industrial might of peasants. 

Let’s talk about the peasants.  Highland Warriors uses a creative idea for managing your production.  If you designate peasants to a certain task, the more they work at their assignment, the more productive they become.  You can upgrade them to a Master Craftsman, which will cause them to haul more lumber, reap more grain, mine more ore, or produce more meat from cattle.  This will help you build a solid industry to support your troop development efforts, as it is sometimes necessary to throw a continuous flow of troops into the fronts lines. 

A nice loophole in the game is to build lots of watchtowers, as they do not count towards your population total.  So try not to use troops to defend.  Instead, build good fortifications with lots of watchtowers to shoot advancing troops.  Fortifications can be further upgraded by building a garrison, fortress, or a castle.  You will get 6 ranged defenders with the garrison, 12 with the fortress and castle, but you also get cauldrons of boiling oil to dump and a catapult to pummel attackers when you build a castle. 

As with other RTS games coming out these days, Highland Warriors has a zoom ability.  It reaches a bit further than others I’ve seen in that it allows you 360 degree viewing ability, and it lets you come in so close you can see the faces of the soldiers.  You can see the detail in the design within the forests.  Now, they don’t look just like trees, but they have a lot of detail, each one of them, thousands of them.  Overall, the graphics are pretty typical of RTS games, but are smooth and worth noting of quality.

I love the Scottish accents, and the odd sayings.  What does “Laddy-hook” mean?  Anyway, the voices are cool, and there are some helpful sounds to alert you of building completions for troops or construction.  The battle sounds of clashing and burning are at times too much and tend to drown out voices or other sounds.  You can adjust the settings; I’m just not sure why they would design the game with the defaults all out of range. 

I wanted to play this game online, to see how it responded, but I couldn’t find anyone else to play.  I imagine it will be fun, as with most RTS games, the ability to coordinate with another in battle adds a lot of elements of fun.   

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7.8
The AI for the battle is cool.  It seems to work a bit different than some other RTS games, but the same for the most part.  I like the concept and the use of this historical period.  Any time period with a lot of conflict makes for a great war game.  Just your typical RTS game with a few minor differences, but fun, fun, fun.  It does offer good replayability because there are four different clans to choose from, each with campaigns all their own.

Graphics: 7.8
Not bad graphics at all.  I especially like the zoom range, and the level of detail you find when you do use that range to the fullest.  I found other games lacking in their inability to rotate the view, so I was pleased to use this very easy function in Highland Warriors.  I think it makes the battle scenes more realistic graphically when you can zoom in and around the fight.

Sound: 7
I had to reboot a couple times because the sound effects got stuck so loud and the pounding hurt my head, but otherwise, just fix the settings where you like them, and it all works nicely.  Not much can be said, the sounds are helpful, but I do tire of hearing the same effect.  Maybe they could’ve given each unit two or three things to say like some other RTS games have done.

Difficulty: Easy
Very good Tutorials can make the difference between a game that will get rave reviews and the one that will not.  This one makes short work of showing you the ropes, and getting you into the bloodbath.  The campaigns start easy and get harder so you will get the bug to keep playing. 

Concept: 7.5
I liked the movie, so the historical period attracted me.  It’s great to run like a wild Scot into battle, but do pay attention to your strategy and your formations. 

Multiplayer: N/A
I was unable to play online.  My guess is that it will be fun and challenging once you learn to play by yourself.

Overall: 7.5
Take Braveheart, add clerics and magical effects, and you have a semi-nonfictional RTS title with good replayability.  A great buy if you are into real time strategy, and an even better buy if you like William Wallace and the boys.




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