Available: Q1 2004

Castle Strike © Data Becker / Related Designs
Preview By: Jaqub “Estima” Ajmal

From the people that brought you “No Man’s Land”, German based Related Designs have a brand new action packed medieval RTS vehicle titled “Castle Strike” on the horizon, that emphasizes on fast paced action and story driven game play. Gamer's Hell got to play a beta version that the boys were kind enough to put together for us.

The story takes place in medieval Europe where war rages between different kings and clans; the game comes with three campaigns, one for each playable country: England, France and Germany. Each campaign is based on 8 missions and all the countries have their own set of units; the unit count is between 15-20 different units for each country. You also have a hero unit that is somewhat similar to Warcraft 3, that you follow throughout the campaign.

The first thing that strikes you when you try it for the first time is how good this game actually looks, and the performance the 3d engine outputs. The environments are filled with lush vegetation that moves smoothly to the wind, gigantic battles that could make any graphics card start to stutter (but in this game they don’t). There are also a lot of small graphical details added that we are not usually used to in this genre, for instance if you walk your units through water it will make ripples after them. While the graphics aren’t all that important in this genre, it does help you get into the game easier and let’s face it, even the most hardcore RTS buff enjoys something pretty to look at while playing.

It must also be said that you can move the camera exactly as you want; I have long wished that I could move the camera as close as I like, ad having your camera in the middle of a big fight is a very nice addition indeed. I am surprised that so few RTS games actually have a camera that you can control with total freedom.

The sound effects throughout the game are well done with different sets of voices for each unit, and while the fighting sound effects really shine, I do feel some more ambient sound effects wouldn’t hurt to be added.

The gameplay itself is based upon different goals; some missions require you to take out a team of hunters to hunt so you can feed your people, while in others you get a fixed team of units and your objective is to kill a particular enemy. The levels are always accompanied by well acted voice-over’s and cut scenes to keep you interested, and missions can totally change objectives due to the story that drives the campaigns.

The building aspect is impressive with the extremely easy to use yet detailed interface.
Some things though that should be added is an epic soundtrack that can grasp you even deeper into the game, and some textures are also somewhat ruff at places. But these are only minor things though, that most defiantly will be fixed when the game is released.

The RTS genre has been somewhat watered down lately with titles that don’t really offer anything new game play wise, and that is where Castle Strike may succeed with its story driven gameplay that gives the player a reason to continue with the game. While its gameplay mechanics are not totally revolutionary, it is a welcome title thanks to its somewhat different approach to level design Castle Strike is set to be released in Q1 2004 and comes with multiplayer support. Anyone that enjoys RTS titles such as Age of Empires should keep an eye out for this great title. Now if you would excuse me, I want to go and play Castle Strike some more.