Article by Boughton "Supreme"
Ancient Italy, a time when the Romans were invading just about everyone they could get their hands on. Ancient wartime settings have always seemed to offer up nice formulas for strategic war games, and Legion looks like it definitely has the potential to end up as yet another satisfying ancient war title. Fortunately, Paradox Entertainment has a fair amount of experience with ancient war titles in the past, namely the highly rated titles, Europa Universalis II and Svea Rike III.
Legion takes place just before Rome plundered the many leagues, city-states, and tribes inhabiting the Italian region. Though there weren’t any cut-scenes or story lines set in place in the version I played, I could already see the historical accuracy Paradox Entertainment is shooting for. Twenty alliances were available to play as or against, including the Romans, Etruscans, and the Lucanians, all accurately located in their historic locations. Each faction’s military strengths and weaknesses were also researched and implemented into the game, offering some astonishing historical depth. Many of the tribes had there own unique units, offering either an advantage or disadvantage.
After you choose your faction, it’s time to build an empire and capture as many territories as you can. You start out with a small amount of resources and two or three cities. Like all strategy games, you build up your farms, barracks, town halls, etc., to be able to gain as much power as possible. In order to further your strength when your cities run out of room, you must capture your enemy’s cities. It quickly became more and more apparent that this can take a great deal of planning ahead and superior strategy. Part of this strategy lies with the specific allies you choose. During the game, you will receive and send requests to form alliances with other factions. I learned the hard way that you must be careful as to which allies you choose, as I quickly became hated by many. Factions may also declare war on you, or vice versa. This, of course, can affect who your allies are even further. I actually experienced backlash from a couple allies soon after declaring war on a certain enemy a time or two.
The battle system is a unique departure from the normal "choose an enemy and start clicking" style that most strategy games adopt. In Legion, you group up a number of units, and when you are ready for battle you start making your way to an enemy’s city. Since the entire game is turn-based, you can only move a certain amount each turn, depending on the unit types. Once you reach your enemy, you choose how you want your units positioned, and how you want them to attack. It takes a nice amount of strategy; such as placing your archers behind your melee units and making them advance shortly and then hold. After choosing how to have each group of units attack, you simply sit back and watch a detailed battle between all of the units.
Graphics-wise, Legion wasn’t anything miraculous, but they weren’t too horrible either. The animations and textures in the battle sequences were nicely presented, offering a detailed and entertaining view of the fight. It should be noted that many of the special effects weren’t implemented in the build version I was sent, so it will get better as development moves along.
It would have been nice to see a multi-player mode in the works, as playing your friends is always a lot of fun. Many other strategy games have found much of their success thanks to a multi-player mode. Of course, it may be implemented later, as this is still in pre-release beta stages.
As a beta, the version I played had some obvious recognizable missing elements, but even with these the game still offered a nice amount of entertainment. With the release date approaching, we will soon see if this game lives up to the potential that it looks like it could fulfil. Look for this game towards the end of May 2002.