Available : Q1 2003

Highland Warriors Preview © Data Becker
Preview By Rajen K.

‘What kind of man would defy a king?’ I think we all remember this sentence from the movie Braveheart. Braveheart fans unite! In Highland Warriors we go back to the time of Scotland’s independence. That’s right, 850 A.D. Being a fan of the RTS (Real Time Strategy) genre and especially the ones which take you back in time I just HAD to try this game.

When I first played my Press Demo copy I noticed the graphics of this game are similar to the well-known RTS Warcraft III. Of course since this is a Press Demo I would expect the graphics to be a bit more updated before the actual release. Looking at the effects I would say this game has a nice engine, but I expect it to be similar to the Age of Mythology engine when it’s done. The cut-scenes are like the in-game graphics like most RTS games, with the wonderful Command & Conquer series exempted of course. The animations in the game are pretty good, but one thing really bugged me; when you kill someone (or something like animals) they don’t fall instantly. They keep standing for 1-2 seconds which is really annoying at first. I kept clicking on the soldiers after they already “died”.

The game engine is really good. On my Pentium 4 2.4Ghz with GF4 Ti4200 128MB I got smooth FPS always in 1280x1024 resolution at 32 bit (I know, I’m spoiled). Even with a massive amount of units on screen I got good fps. The detail on the units is nice, the shadows are real-time and the movements are smooth. Other than the usual zooming and scrolling in most 3D RTS games you can now also rotate the camera for a better view. No more battles behind trees which you can’t follow. In other words, nice going with the graphic engine!

The game holds 4 clans, I won’t discuss them all, but one of the clans that really got my attention is the McKays clan. Being a fan of magic and wizardry (yes I watched Harry Potter) I immediately fell in love with this clan. Druids and wizards are the essential units of this clan. Druids can disappear while wizards can teleport to a safe place and then strike with deadly precision. Another thing I really liked in the game is the seasons; although there are only 2 of the 4 we know (summer and winter) there is a real difference in game play between these 2 seasons. In the summer your units move fast and battle like they could go on forever, in the winter they move slowly through the thick snow and battle slower too. This really gives you the “feel” of the season.

The game is similar to games as Warcraft III, Age of Mythology, Empire Earth, etc. You have to gather food, stone, farming, etc. Your peasants (villagers) perform these tasks for you, but they also build structures such as Huts, Warehouses, Mills, Mines, etc. Not much new stuff if you’re a fan of the genre. Managing your villagers is one of the things that are improved in this game. In a new interface you can see what your villagers are doing, if they’re idle, etc. You can click on their icons to center the camera on them for more scrolling ease. Like most other RTS games you can upgrade your units, but now you can upgrade your villagers as well which I didn’t see in any RTS games until now. Your villagers can be upgraded to become masters at their jobs. Upgraded villagers gather food and other resources faster. Your military units can also be upgraded. You got your classic warriors who fight with swords and axes. And you got the archers which are good for scouting.

Of course this is just a Press Demo and I doubt this will be the final game. There are still some minor bugs to work out, but I’m sure that won’t be any trouble. Nonetheless this is a must for all RTS gamers. And maybe even a chance for gamers to get introduced on the genre.