RETRO – In the 11th century the word Viking scared the living crap out of the kingdoms in Northern Germany. No wonder: the half nomadic, army that knows no fear, and was vicious in pillaging the towns that were in the way of Vikings. The loot was not enough, as the men and children were slaughtered while the women were taken, or raped. The Vikings were famous of their ferocity, bloodthirstiness, and legends were told of them. Such features of a tribe make it perfect for a real time strategy game, so the Vikings thanks to the French Cryo team are now conquering the land of PC games.
Rage of The Vikings is not the first game that details the lives of the people living up north. There was the game called Heimdall and its sequel for the Amiga, or Interplay’s Lost Vikings series. While the first one was an action-RPG, the later was a platformer, the dev team of Cryo decided to create an RTS with Saga.
Rage Of Empires?
It has been two years since the wildly successful Age of Empire was released, even though it used the basic ideas of Warcraft series, and Westwood real time strategy games but with a small sprinkle of history. The game’s main cores were the same: “gather resources, build a bunch of different buildings, train solders, develop, and rush the enemy, who is also trying to do the same”. Rage of Vikings at first glance seems to have these exact same foundations. and might even look like an expansion pack for Age of Empires.
Our Vikings will only prevail in the great struggle of history if the production is quick enough: build houses, hunt, use agriculture, develop weapons in the foundry for attack and defense, and create armors. Of course in all the hard work they cannot forget about their god, Odin: they can build temples, “dolems” – in which for praying for their mythic female warrior the Valkyrie they gain attack spells, which is useful against the enemy
There can only be one!
A fan of Age of Empires would find it really weak, if they could only control the Viking tribes – especially since they have only three types of units: Male (warrior), female, and Valkyrie. Luckily the developers included other nations in this game. Such factions are the Francs the catholic empire in the south. They hated Odin’s people the most: besides considering them heathens, they were the favorite targets for the Viking raids. The other five factions are part of the mythos and fantasy world of the Vikings, such as: Elves, dwarfs, trolls, Centaurs, and Giants.
All of the factions have their own units, religion and combat tactics. The nomad Vikings for example besides combat can plow the fields, the southern faction’s peasants for example will run at the sight of combat – only official soldiers can take up arms. To counter this, the Vikings are experts in magic, however the southern faction only has “anti-magic” : this basically means that the priests learn the Viking spells, and with their Christian faith, negate them.
What is so different about the Viking?
I guess those that are getting bored of Warcraft 2 and Age of Empires’ battles, will ask: What is so new and fun about Viking that I should care about Saga? Well the developers luckily were able to tweak on the gameplay, and added a few new ideas to the usual gameplay mechanics.
The generating of units is much more realistic, they are not created out of the barracks from thin air. Instead here just like in real life they are born in a house from a man and a woman who raise them – only if there is enough food supplies of course. The child’s gender and which unit type they become is only determined once they leave the house of the parents.
The economy part is also better: while in Age of Empires the seasons do not change (you can plant wheat fields anywhere until they run out), in Saga we will have to watch out for the entire fixed parts of the land: if we miss out on planting seeds in spring, and in the summer the collection, our people will not have anything left to eat for winter.
Our units’ roles are also not so deeply rigid as in Age: For example in the Vikings faction, the soldier will work, and also fight, the women will do any job, however the Valkyrie will only do any job related to combat: Ship building, dragging loot etc. Also another new feature is that, we do not need to win the game purely by combat, as if our legend is big enough we can conquer the more peace-loving nations without combat.
A fall of an empire?
The mindset of the developers seem to be entirely clear: A few new features, a bit better looking graphics, but everything is almost the same and ended up as a Warcraft/AOE esque real time strategy game. Those who got bored of these types of games will not be really pumped up to play it, however those who love these types of games should try it out. As there is nothing better than, as Conan the Barbarian would say – “Kill the enemy, and hear their women scream”!
I was skeptical at first about Cryo’ game: the French development team has not been really topnotch at their games lately, so I was not expecting too much from Saga. Although the intro was great, and had much promise, but I remembered who the developers were, I was still doubtfull of this game.
Well I was too pessimistic, and I must say that while Rage of the Vikings is not a revolutionary product, but it did manage to sway me from my favorite RTS games. This is partly due to the great atmosphere ( great sound track!), and thanks to the new features that create a more realistic gameplay
However I really missed one thing from the game, campaigns. There are none, only a string of unique missions but without any overall arching story. If we win we get the same basic animation which looks great at first but boring for the hundredth times. The engine looks like Age of Empires which is pretty weak in this day and age of RTS games.
Partly because of this, mainly because of the botched marketing campaign that meant barely any people heard of the game it will end up just like the real life Vikings. If Age of Empire 2 will ever be released, Saga will be forgotten forever.
-Bad Sector- (1998)
+ Great atmosphere and OST
+ We kings!
– No campaigns
– Bland graphics
– No story
Publisher: Cryo Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Cryo Interactive Entertainment