Medieval Lords: Build, Defend, Expand Review

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Graphics: 7.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 8.0
Review by Kurt Knudsen
Medieval Lords is a new RTS style game from Digital Jesters. They have quite a few games under their belt and the quality of those games came through to this one. Medieval Lords takes a different spin on the classic RTS genre. They didn’t reinvent the wheel so to speak but they came damn close. Graphically speaking the game is great, but it can get pixilated at some points. The music and audio is fantastic, but more variation is needed. Gameplay wise this game is solid. It is incredibly fun and extremely addicting. I feel like I’m playing the original C&C all over again.

I’ve had a few hiccups when playing the game. The main problem was the difficulty. It took me quite a few times to beat the first mission. The other problems are money and food, which is the reason I could not beat the mission. Food and money run out too fast if you do not build strategically. Other than those issues I had a great time playing this game and will continue to do so for quite some time.

Graphics:

The graphics for Medieval Lords are pretty nice. You can zoom all the way in to a First Person View mode and go around your town like that. I haven’t found an actual use for this mode as of yet, but I guess it could be fun to watch your troops battle it out and watch your workers strut their stuff.

The buildings are fairly detailed and you can see workers and villagers go in and out of the buildings. The towns aren’t littered with peasants, but you can see the occasional villager here and there. Also the market places send out horse transports to carry food and such around to the houses and other buildings. Quite a nice touch I might add.

Like other RTS games as time passes you can upgrade your structures to newer types. However it is done a bit differently in Medieval Lords. When your house reaches a certain capacity it gets upgraded to a new house to allow more room for more people. All of these houses look differently and offer quite a bit more detail. The rest of the scenery is fairly detailed as well. You can see flowing water, clouds moving, huge hills and flat plains. All of these can aid you in your quest for glory.

When you create army units they are in a group of about 50 units. While this may sound like a large number you only really see 5 guys. When they fight they don’t go hand to hand, they shoot arrows at each other. While this may sound fairly lame it is effective and does look pretty cool when you have 900 units shooting at an enemy.

The landscape is very well done. The different types of hills and grasses around the area really add a feeling to the game. You can see birds flying around and deer and other animals grazing the lands in some places. Words really can’t describe it, you just have to see the screenshots or play the game yourself.

Overall I must say I am impressed. The graphics could be a bit better given today’s technology. Digital Jesters did a bang up job on creating a very graphically realistic representation. I don’t know if they are historically correct but the graphics look damn nice. Of course there are times when the graphics can look a bit dated but for the most part they serve their purpose and offer great visuals.

Audio:

The music plays softly in the background and changes when a war is about to start. I believe the track repeats itself but it doesn’t matter. Your attention is mainly focused on building up your troops and houses and other things needed to build up a country. The music is an added touch and brings you into the game with its soft tunes. When you are about to go to war with a neighboring village or you are about to be attacked the music changes to fast paced war-type music. It’s nothing fancy and isn’t award winning but it is very well done and definitely fits the game perfectly.

As far as I can tell there is no voice acting in the game. There really isn’t any need for it, maybe for some cut-scenes but for the most part voices aren’t needed and the game feels more alive without them. There are ambient sounds such as villagers walking the streets and pigs squealing at the pigsties. Over populated areas you hear a general ruckus, as you would expect. These are great touches and bring life to the game.

The music and the rest of the audio really suit Medieval Lords well. There really isn’t a dull moment in the game. No silent parts, no areas where one would expect more from the audio. It is just what it is and that’s all there is to say about it.

Gameplay:

While the majority of the game is fairly plain the game is pretty deep. There is a lot of micromanagement to deal with. You must meet the requirements of your people if you want to succeed. If you have a small population you cannot and will not beat the game. Your army depends on the size of your population and if your population requires more food than you have it will dwindle.

There are a lot of different types of food that you can manage. The best ones that I’ve found are pigsties; these seem to bring in the best food per square foot. Of course you want to diversify your food types because of natural disasters. Sometimes there might be no fish for a few months or a drought so the wheat will die. If you only use one sort of food type you will be out of luck when a disaster hits.

Your main focal point is housing and developing them. There are 9 different house types and they develop automatically. You start off with a standard one and you must suit that house’s needs in order for it to go to the next stage. Houses have several different types of requirements such as water, food, security, serenity, health and leisure. Water and food are easy to maintain but the rest can be difficult. Different buildings add and subtract from different types of requirements. Gallows may add security but will make serenity fall quite a bit. There are several different types of buildings that affect these requirements. Namely wooden crosses, rose gardens, doctor's houses, and churches. If you meet the needs of the people their houses will improve and your population will soar.

For the armies you are given two different types, infantry soldiers and Calvary. Infantry can hold down towers as well as combine into massive armies, up to 250 I believe. You can fit 50 soldiers in a tower to protect your town, but Calvary obviously can’t fit in there. You really don’t control them as far as fighting goes; they basically do their thing if they are near the enemy. Each time your army gets hit their numbers fall by 10, so having a large army near each other is essential.

When you want to engage in a war with a neighboring village you put your army in their borders. There is a small period called God’s Truce where no one attacks anyone. This allows you to move all of your troops there and also gives the enemy time to prepare. Once the truce is over your troops attack their base and the war has begun. If you are trying to invade their main border they will go straight for the dungeon that controls their city. They will attack anything that gets in their way but will ignore the attacking enemy once they get to the dungeon. If they defeat the dungeon you will gain control over their entire town and any technology they had.

When the enemy attacks you they go for your weakest point. So it is wise to have a very secure perimeter. If you have a tower with no troops in it the enemy will exploit this and invade your base. They will raid everything they can until they get destroyed. It is wise to keep your main dungeon very protected because if that falls the game is over. Also there is no fog of war. You can see everything on the entire map and the enemy can see you. The best perimeter defenses are catapults and ballistae.

The way technology works in this game is by the levels of your houses. You cannot build certain structures without obtaining a certain level. As stated before the houses level up automatically so long as you meet their needs. Once one structure hits the next level it has a global affect. You can build anything that requires that level so long as 1 house is that level.

Overall the game is a lot of fun. The micromanagement isn’t hard nor is it tedious. It can get annoying at times when you run out of one resource. The great part is that you don’t have to worry about workers and miners etc. It is done automatically. Money is brought in through taxes and food is done through different crops and slaughterhouses.

Conclusion:

Medieval Lords is an incredible game. I would say it’s a must have for every RTS fan out there. I haven’t enjoyed a game this much for quite a long time. I am sick and tired of the same old Command and Conquer and Age of Empires clone. Digital Jesters finally brought us something new with this fantastic game.