|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Omega Force||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Koei||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Spring 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
From 1337 to 1453, England and France were at war. Soon you will be able to experience the magnitude of this epic war without going to the library. Omega Force and Koei are bringing what is sure to be another classic, in the vein of Dynasty Warriors, to the PS3 and Xbox 360. Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War will bring depth to the historic war genre with an eclectic assortment of characters including Joan of Arc and John Talbot 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. With such a dynamic storyline, it's only fitting that one of the most powerful war comes to the most powerful next-gen systems.
The game's unique sense of action will bring strong dynamics and ever-changing conflicts. Taking control of a rouge commander, you can choose to fight for the English or the French. As the game progresses you will have to adjust your style of play by sending the best unit for battle. You will also have several different units at your command, such as infantry, cavalry, archers, and special units like elephant units and castle siege specialists. With the "Free Mission" system, players will be able to deploy their mercenary forces at their fingertips for either the English or French armies, thus giving control over how the battle will turn out directly to the player. Your progression will depend solely on your achievements and decisions on the battlefield. One of the main goals is to build a reputation as a capable and dependable leader. Doing so will not only allow you to employ more desirable soldiers, but will also allow you to take on harder missions worthy of a leader of your magnitude. The more battles you fight, the stronger you become, as do your soldiers. Gaining combat experience during each battle will cause your troops to become more lethal in combat. Using a point system, you will also be able to augment your unit's capabilities for battle.
The few trailers that have been shown don't really show the graphic appeal of a next-gen system, unfortunately. The character models for the known iconic characters look great, but when you have thousands of soldiers at a time on screen, the mapping for the soldiers falls short. Even several of the environments displayed by screenshots and the trailer look bland. It is not something you'd expect from a next-gen title. Of course, with the delay to summer of 2007, maybe Omega Force and Koei can polish the graphics to meet the standard of the powerhouse consoles. The trailers do offer one shining hope though. Throughout the trailers are several close-ups of characters that are cut off mid-dialogue, which leads one to believe that there will be several storylines to advance the action along.
Incorporating a three button assignment system, Bladestorm brings a certain sense of strategy to the gameplay. Controlling hundreds of selectable characters in a strategic system seems a bit complex. Fear not, while a strategy game at heart, Hundred Years' War reminds us that it is okay to be a button masher. In fact, it will reward you with intoxicating combos as your hundreds of soldiers engage and attack your enemy in unison. If the music from the trailers is any indication as to how the in-game score will be, then it will be both dynamic and sense shattering. Omega and Koei don't look to disappoint with the musical score since it has been one of the factors that made Dynasty Warriors and Romance of the Three Kingdoms as successful as they have become. Since, undoubtedly, there will be voice acting, the only hope we can have is that it won't feel over dramatized. Equally, we can only hope that the soldier reactions to attack won't be painfully exuberant.
Hours upon hours of gameplay are surely on the horizon of Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War. Judging by past successful franchise games, we can safely bet that combat will be simplistically pleasing. Commanding several factions of an army on a micro level will feel fresh in a long repeated genre. Since the full details of the game have not been released yet, Koei will undoubtedly have other options available in the game not yet mentioned.
So, should you anticipate greatness from a game so intertwined with history? If you love history and wonder what it would be like to battle in such an epic war, then it is a resounding yes. Even if you are not the type to be washed away by the scope of detailed accuracy to historical games, you should at least be biting at the bit to enjoy the sheer brutalities of war only as Koei can bring. With so many great titles set to debut this year, Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War could definitely be among the top.
CCC Freelance Writer