Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Genre: Real-Time Strategy
Similar To: Stronghold
Published: 06 :24
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman
Overall: 2.5 = Terrible
Req.: P3 1GHz, 256MB RAM, 32MB video card, DirectX 9 comp. sound card
Reviewed On: P4 2.5 GHz, 512 Meg RAM, ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
When trying to come up with an adequate
way to begin my review of Besieger, I was constantly reminded of a short
story out of one of the Hellraiser comics. In the short, a poker player
in the 1800s won a bet with a stranger, with the infamous box as the wager. The
player won, and the stranger grabbed the box and headed out; whenever the player
made the comment that he had won, the stranger acknowledged the statement and
left with the box. I think that is how I would treat Besieger. While not
necessarily as bad as a tool that opens up a gate to a netherworld of pain and
suffering, it would be pretty painful to the unsuspecting winner.
is a real-time strategy title that focuses on siege combat - or so the box would
have you believe. The player assumes the role of Barmalaya and Konin, both heroes
from different nations that are finding themselves in some rather unfortunate
circumstances. While Konin went on a mission to attain the Sword of Krom, to assure
peace and safety for his kingdom, Cimmeria, his sister took the opportunity to
work her dark magic and usurp the throne. Hearing news of this, the Vikings gathered
a large army at their capital and the council of elders sends Barmalaya on a quest
to get Thor's Hammer to stay the inevitable attack. En route, his airship is blown
off course and Mara attacks the Viking army, destroying it, the council, and the
capital. The player starts off as Barmalaya, gathering support for the Viking
cause, and eventually assumes the role of Konin, during and after his trials in
search of the sword.
The distortion of the intro music should have tipped
me off that something wasn't going to be quite right here. Shortly after beginning
the game I encountered the game's most dangerous creatures of pain: the AI, pathfinding,
and camera - the unholy trinity of pain.
Aside from crawling through
dungeons and laying siege to castles, the player will also recruit lesser heroes
to fight alongside their army of battering rams, spearmen, berserkers, cavalry,
archers, and soldiers of
races. The Cimmerians and Vikings have different units, with the Cimmerians seeming
to have a significant advantage with mounted archers and spearmen. Siege weapons
include battering rams, siege towers, artillery airships, and giant crossbows.
It's a shame that there is little fun in using all of these handy wall-crushing
Due to horrible pathfinding and unresponsive units, elaborate
siege plans will be for naught as troops get stuck behind roots, trees, hills,
or refuse to move (always count on healers not moving if they are a part of a
squad that is told to attack). I once sat and clicked on a battering ram to attack
a wall, a section that was a few feet in front of it, over fifteen times, and
not once did it bother going to the target; instead, it went in a different direction
and attacked a random object, also getting it destroyed in the process. The problems
are made even worse during the boring dungeon-crawling missions - and some do
move at the pace of a crawl, with few units given to go through large caves and
ruins - which did nothing but waste time. The camera will also play hell with
every aspect of the game: air units are never adequately shown with ground units;
zooming out from an air unit causes the camera to drop to ground level; it's sluggish;
and it wasn't uncommon for the view to actually move on its own.
problems aren't the only thing wrong. Due to a population limit, the player will
spend most of the time divvying citizens up between manning mechanized weapons,
gathering resources (iron, wood, and stone), training as troops, and working at
structures to increase productivity. Since sieges are big productions, it's unfortunate
that big armies rarely form due to the player needing to constantly supply the
army with goods. The whole process of training and assigning workers is very slow,
which isn't a good thing considering how long is needed to fight off armies and
destroy towns - I had the game at 150% speed and it was still sluggish due to
just not being intuitive. Formations are also useless from a tactical standpoint:
there are none; they are only somewhat useful in navigation because they rein
in troops, necessary to prepare for engagements and move through tight spots.
Further negating the usefulness of formations is the fact that unit class also
makes no difference in a formation: healers and archers will be in the front lines
with the soldiers, and killed within seconds.
After suffering through
the single player campaigns, there are always the multiplayer and skirmish modes
to try out. For multiplayer: good luck on finding someone else with the game -
or who would want to subject themselves to more of it. Skirmish mode is brought
down by the same problems as the campaign. Sure, it looks cool seeing a castle
built into the side of a mountain and an army ready to rush it. However, instead
of the epic battle that seems sure to occur, the player's army gets slaughtered
by catapults and the trickiness of the castle's drawbridge; advancing troops will
get confused as to how to go down the bridge, so they will just stand still or
jerk around, with the handfuls that do make it down met by the waiting enemy.
Of course, that is when the player's and enemy's troops aren't running in circles.
Yes, the troops will actually run in circles. I watched a detachment of enemy
troops on my drawbridge, a handful were standing still and 3 or 4 men were running
circles around them. Apparently the mark of a true soldier isn't the ability to
hold their ground against a determined foe, it's the ability to make himself dizzy
and not vomit.
When the game does work, and it randomly will (I would
experience some sessions where only the camera would and a unit or two would mess
up and others when the game just didn't want to respond at all) it meanders around
in the area of average. The idea of laying siege to a castle is awesome, and in
Castles and Stronghold it is, but not here. Every time I would think
that my past experiences were some sort of hallucination, the game would immediately
fall apart (units not moving and getting in the air and jerking back and forth,
etc.) to remind me.
For all that is wrong with the game, the graphics
are actually pretty good. The quality of the character models looks good, as do
the structures, and units are animated well. Watching the wobbly wheels of a battering
ram kick up dirt as it steamed downhill with charging soldiers was always a nice
sight, as were some picturesque views of airships flying over mountaintops. The
sound didn't fair nearly as well. The spoken dialogue is poor, the voices don't
match the characters, and some responses sounded like their were recorded in a
bathroom with a $10 mic. Selecting troops will cause one of each type to respond,
so there will be multiple responses for one command. Peons will also constantly
complain about resources being too far away, despite the fact that they are still
mining them, and will whine nonstop about their situation, with their complaints
often overlapping each other.
Without all of the problems Besieger would be about average.
The few moments when I actually thought I had discovered the diamond in the rough,
I would then be reminded of why I wanted to break something as a hero would ignore
my sixth command to back away and get killed because he couldn't navigate around
a tree stump. No matter how decent it looks in the screenshots or during the first
few minutes of play, the experience quickly degenerates into a needlessly frustrating
episode that has the marks of an unfinished product rather than a few hang ups.
It's just not a good game.