Heroes of Annihilated Empires
GSC are the creators of the well-known Cossacks. With this Heroes of Annihilated Empires they wanted to follow the path of Heroes of Might and Magic.
In the campaign you help main character Elhant, a rather obstinate elves ranger. The standard story (undead attack the kingdom of the elves, so the hero has to save the world) counts 15 missions. It’s not a good campaign, the story might be interesting, but some missions are repetitive and long-winded.
When playing skirmish, you’ll have to choose between RPG or RTS, because to get some villagers, your hero has to be turned into a statue. It’s a bit different from what we’re used to, instead of making some kind of mix of RPG and RTS, there’s a distinctive line between the two genres. Only in the campaign this isn’t the case.
The RPG part is quite simple, there are mostly some basic functions available. When defeating opponents the hero collects experience points and eventually rises in levels, the upgrades concern mostly standard parameters like attack, defence, movement speed, etc. You know the deal. There’s also the possibility to choose between magical or warrior abilities or to combine these two. Spells come in the form of magic cards. The number of cards you’re allowed to have is limited, so you have to think well about the way you’ll put your deck together.
The equipment you get or buy during the game offers advantages but also disadvantages. For instance, a certain kind of armour can increase your defense, but at the cost of your movement speed. Because of this, your hero’s equipment really has to be fine tuned. It works good in the game.
The RTS part is much more elaborate. There are four races to choose from: the Undead, the Elves, the Mechanicians (dwarves) and the Cyrorace (an ice people). There different in style but also in the kind of resources they collect, although they share a few things. Something else that differs from most RTS games are the absolute parameters instead of them being relative. This means that if a certain unit has value 10 in defence against projectiles, the damage will be lessened with 10 (instead of with for example 20%) but the minimum damage is always 1.
Fights contain sometimes a massive amount of soldiers, but in general it all goes quite slowly, don’t expect real action. If you wish to calmly build up your base and then go after the enemy, you can. Once getting started, the A.I. seems to prefer massive, frontal attacks.
These days a lot of effort is put in the graphics in RTS too, but not in this game. In isometric view everything looks okay, but when zooming in it quickly gets ugly. The story in the campaign is told with comics and voiceovers. Not really new, but its quality makes it quite refreshing.
Although there are some nice and original features, the finishing touch seems to be missing. There are some bugs and other annoying things, but all in all this game is nice.