Genre: Real-Time Strategy
ESRB Rating: Teen
Developer: Enlight Software
Release Date: 3/11/08
While most of you probably haven’t heard of the Seven Kingdoms series, it’s actually been around for over a decade. The third in the series, Seven Kingdoms: Conquest, is a departure from the series, because it is based on ancient kingdoms waging war on demons from another dimension.
The campaign modes are rather limited, unfortunately. It’s not like many RTS campaign modes, because it tells a story, but is essentially a scenario that is laid out for you. It reminds me more of Age of Empires in this aspect, rather than something like Warcraft, where a large sweeping story is how the game is presented. And really, the comparison is appropriate considering the game is basically a cross between AoE and Warcraft III. You can choose which side you are on, Humans or Demons, and the Humans span ancient times to the Middle Ages.
The game does have a tutorial mode, which is fairly useful for teaching you the basics of the game, but sadly it is dreadfully boring and slow, and it introduces you to one of the bugs of the game. The Human tutorial is impossible to complete if you do not patch the game. Out of the box, you cannot finish the tutorial.
Despite that, the graphics are OK. They would be pretty good, if it were 3 years ago, but they are dated at best. The opening intro is your typical low-budget CGI job, where the characters have little or no detail and no textures. The characters and buildings in the game itself is more detailed, but still not great. Is starts getting silly when you construct buildings on unlevel terrain, because it just clips into the terrain. You build a farm on a hill, and part of the farm just goes into the hill, and doesn’t even look like it belongs. But besides those small things, the graphics are pretty good.
The sound effects are, likewise, OK. The voice acting is actually pretty good. I especially like the sultry demon narrator, and the human narrator is also good, but more boring. The sound effects are passable, and while there is music, it is completely forgettable. Not bad, just not worth noting.
The game itself is pretty fun. It plays like many standard real-time strategy games. You have buildings, you build new ones and hire units with currency or other items you collect. For example, the humans use Gold and Food to construct and hire, while demons use Blood and Stone. Both factions collect these from buildings such as mines or quarries. You can also perform research to upgrade buildings, increase gold or food output, or learn new skills. One aspect of the game that I never really have encountered is reputation for humans and fear for demons. These are collected almost like experience and can be used to promote your units. Some units you hire also require reputation to be put into play. Primarily is the hero class. They function like commanders and can perform greater skills than your normal units. There are also magic users which can use DemonStone power to cast spells.
Overall, the UI and play control is much like other RTS titles. Selecting units, constructing buildings, moving and attacking are all very standard. The game really does nothing to break new ground. Everything in the game I’ve seen in others, but that’s not necessarily bad, because they do a decent job with what they have. I just don’t think people are looking for an RTS that DOESN’T try anything new. There have been so many greatly successful RTS games, and the ones that really stand out either have a big name, or are really innovative.
As with most RTS titles, how much you play depends on what type of gamer you are. If you like multiplayer and are really interested in playing with other people, then you’ll get a lot out of the game and it’ll be fun, but if you prefer a single-player experience, then really this isn’t the type of game you’ll like. The campaigns are basically just playing against bots in an FPS. It’s just playing a multiplayer game against the computer. And the problem with a multiplayer in a game like this is finding people to play against.
I guess overall, my biggest problem with the game is just the lack of quality assurance. There was little to know QA work done on this game, because there are two huge flaws that should never have made it into the final game. First and foremost is that the game will not run on my laptop. I have a Pentium Core 2 Duo 2.2Ghz, 3GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT. But everytime I ran the game, I’d get a DirectX error, but I have never had any other problems with games. Fortunately, I have another PC, a P4 3Ghz, 1GB RAM and a GeForce 7600 GT. So I was able to play it on a lower end machine, and after doing research, I found the likely issue is that the game was never engineered to work on high resolutions or widescreen monitors, which flabbergasted me. Some people are able to run it using a freeware program called D3D Windower, but I never got it to work right.
The other major problem is the Human tutorial. If you don’t patch, it doesn’t work right. And for people like myself who haven’t played one of the games in this series, a tutorial is a must. Fortunately they fixed that in the patch. And I read of many other bugs, but fortunately didn’t experience them. Despite that, those two glaring ones tells me that the developers didn’t really care that much about the game, because how could those two be missed? I’m sorry, but as a consumer, I have a serious problem being a beta tester for a game that I pay for.
Gameplay and Control: Good
Appeal Factor: Decent
Final Rating: Mediocre
Short Attention Span Summary
If you are looking for a brand spanking new RTS with all the bells and whistles and with innovative gameplay, look elsewhere. If you want a solid RTS is OK everything, but with solid gameplay, then check this game out. Or at least think about it. Maybe wait for another patch or two (as this writing, the most recent is 1.04), because bugs suck. If I were able to play the game on my laptop and if the game went through a decent QA process, then maybe it would have been better.