Great Invasions is a strategy game that allows you to take control of the many nations that existed during the dark ages, from the year 350-1066 AD. It is a time period that is not often portrayed in video games; spanning from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Viking Invasions.
Due to the nature of the constant rise and fall of nations during the time period you command not one but several nations as they progress from barbarism to nation-states and eventually their demise. Each different stage of a nation plays differently; from the barbaric beginnings controlling a conquering force to a nation that settles down into an empire with a burgeoning economy. While the idea of allowing a player control over multiple nations seems like a good idea given the short span of many nations during the tumultuous period it can overwhelm the player. Instead of having to manage a single empire, itâ€™s armies, its economy, and its diplomatic relations the player has to manage 6 or more at a time. This can be quite confusing given that one of your nations can be at war with a rival that is on good terms with another of your nations.
All your time is spent on the same map, a provincial view of the European continent and surrounding territories, with 4 different map views; Military, economic, diplomatic, and religious. The military mode is where you command your varies armies on the sea and on land. Combat is simple to initiate simply involving moving troops into an enemy province; the battle is then resolved using many variables from the terrain to each commanderâ€™s skill. The economic view is where you can manage your nationâ€™s economic aspects; from building improvements to your provinces to managing trade with foreign nations. The religious view allows you to view each provinces religious influence and allows you to send missionaries to convert provinces. The graphics engine is nothing fancy; a pure 2D engine but itâ€™s able to present the information well.
There are also many historical events that will occur during the game leading the nations along their traditional paths. However the player has available many different abilities they can use; these include assassinations of enemy leaders, placing spies in enemy cities, and bribing enemy soldiers. These events provide different strategic options and break up the historical development of nations to provide some varying game play each time.
While there is a lot of complexity in the game play it is hard to grasp the many aspects due to the unpleasant interface. From cutoff messages to historical event dialogs that you donâ€™t have much information to base choices on to paragraph long tool tips you canâ€™t read while the game is paused; you are presented with a lot of information at times and at others, not enough. The manual is also lacking at just over 20 pages in length so you wonâ€™t have much help there learning the workings of the game.
If you can get past the interface issues the game has a lot of depth to offer to players who love strategy games and enjoy this time period.