Although it has not been a greatly anticipated game (in fact, not at all), Cryo Interactive has put in "their best efforts" to produce Saga: Rage of the Vikings. This game has been thrown into the masses of past and present real time strategy games to fend for itself and fight its way to the top. Does it face up to games like Brood Wars or will it perish like so many others?
I guess all I can say about the storyline is that it is quite humorous. The funny part about it is that there is none. I searched long and hard to try and find it yet all I was left with was the fact that it involved vikings and a briefing of your mission objectives at the beginning of each level. However, I didn't let that put me down and I strode forward irrespective of the lack of storyline.
With great excitement I slammed my Enter key and eagerly awaited for the game to load. As soon as the menu popped up, my smile fell to a frown. Staring at me was a muddy brown menu with little variety added to it. The menu was not bright at all and made a bad reflection on the game itself. The thing that I found enjoyable was the music playing in the background. It had a great tempo and made you eager to get stuck in the game. I moved on quickly and clicked on New Game. Once again I was horrified to see a list of 25 map files, 8 of which were tutorial maps with names like BASIC_01.sna and ICE.sna. I also noticed a multiplayer directory with a handful of multiplayer maps. The game ran quite smoothly. The graphics were pretty dull and "cheap" though. Obviously there is no 3dfx support in this game. The graphics department definitely does not fare well against other games in this genre.
Saga is similar to Settlers 3, where your objective is to build up a settlement , harvest resources, trade , gain wealth and destroy anyone who opposes you. I didn't like the idea of having ALL your units, including warriors and other fighting units, joining the peasants in harvesting and construction of buildings. The thought of you best fighting unit, which you paid good money to train, on his knees in the dirt harvesting resources just didn't seem right to me. Another thing I noticed was the blistering pace at which your units move and conduct their duties. My first thought was that the game speed was too high, so I toned it right down and returned to the action, but now my units were moving far too slow and small tasks like picking berries took ages.
So I had to make do with my men sprinting across the screen like flashes of light. Soon I had reached the point in the game where you face your enemy. Rushing towards my base came a vicious warthog. Why he wanted to flatten all my men and my settlement by himself I don't know, but my men swiftly moved in and literally made mince-meat of it and sent it to the warehouse. A bit disappointing for a first battle. Besides that, there were two things that baffled and irritated me to no end. The first was the attempt of making the game seem more realistic by having clouds pass by every 2 or 3 seconds. This was a miserable failure. Instead you had large blotches of white zooming by like fighter jets and blocking your view. The second thing that I found incredibly baffling was the fact that you could control your cattle! In one of the tutorial missions, you began with one cow. To my amazement I could click on my cow and send him off exploring or even get him to harvest some resources. Funny enough, the objective of the mission was to increase the cattle from 1 to 2. My question is: How is it possible to reproduce with only 1 cow?? But that is better left for Cryo Interactive to answer. One good thing I found about the game was that there was a lot of attention to detail on the buildings and the units. It's not often you see a software title with detail like this. Also, the movement and smoothness of the units was really good and deserves at least a "thumbs up" for it.
When considering the sound in the game, there are a mix of good and bad things. Some of the bad things were the unrealistic and high pitched sound effects. Chopping at trees sounded like techno music on a PC-speaker and became very irritating. The game does not support 3d sound or any other special sound engines. I also found that there were a lack of sound effects and I spent most of my time in silence. The best part about the sound is the unit speech. This was very crisp and clear and certainly was given a lot of attention to by Cryo Interactive.
The controls for Saga are your basic real time strategy keys, with the mouse doing most of the work moving units, commanding units, conducting trade etc. It also has a range of shortcut keys for those who want to get things done quickly. Obviously there is no support for gamepads otherwise it would make the game feel a bit awkward.
Saga most certainly supports multiplay by offering IPX connection, TCP/IP, Modem or Serial Cable connection. You can also choose to take on the computer in a scenario map. This proves to be quite fun and the battles are grand and very intense. The amount of players that can play depends on the map chosen , but if you want to, you could load up the map editor provided and make your own battle ground for all your buddies to enjoy. The multiplayer section of the game seems to be the strong point. Its fast, furious and entertaining.
Saga: Rage of the Vikings unfortunately was a disappointment. I expected a lot more. I felt that the multiplayer section didn't let me down and was quite superb, but that still can't be the foundation for the entire game. This certainly isn't a groundbreaking game, but it might be a choice for you.
People who downloaded Saga: Rage of the Vikings have also downloaded:
Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends, Seven Kingdoms 2: The Fryhtan Wars, Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries, Rising Lands, Rome: Total War, Rise of Nations, Soldiers at War, Vikings: The Strategy of Ultimate Conquest
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