Fantastical battles between Vikings and Cimmerians are brought to life in this territorially focused real-time strategy game. Set in a Northern Europe of long ago, Besieger features fictional creatures and peoples of legend. In addition to the armies of rival nations, players will also face ogres, werewolves, centaurs, and other non-human opponents as they fight for control of the countryside. The construction and maintenance of defensive structures can be especially important in this game, while deformable environments allow for the destruction of buildings, trees, and other large, strategically valuable objects. New worker units may be drafted for free, but training them to fight as warriors requires special, sometimes expensive facilities. Besieger features 12 scenario maps, and players can eventually choose to lead either the Viking or Cimmerian faction. Multiplayer modes, including Deathmatch, Cooperative, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and others, support up to 16 players over a local network or the Internet.
As an avid fan of the RTS (Real Time Strategy) genre, its fair to say that I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of Besieger. The delicious concoction of RTS, myth and legend makes Besieger the most appetizing title to be offered on a plate for a while. Besieger is the latest gift from Dreamcatcher Games, but despite all the press, is Besieger capable of going that extra mile? In short, yes and no, where this RTS delivers, it also fails.
The Besieger storyline is clearly creative in its approach and manages to combine historical fact with Viking legend. For a game to have a certain element of gameplay, a fun and addictive storyline is required, this is an aspect where Besieger certainly delivers. The story revolves around the city of Tark, which is ruled by a callous king named Konin who is lusting after the luxurious sword of Krom. Then tragedy strikes when Konins mischievous sister Mara wants to take the throne herself by using black magic and evil powers. To protect themselves, the Vikings send their top warrior Barmalay to obtain Thor's hammer in the city of Baltor. However, soon after his departure, the Viking capital is destroyed. Barmalay is all the Vikings have, and to add salt to his wounds, his air ship is shot down over the deep green forests of Cimmerian. As a player, it is your task to guide Barmalay, Konin and your few remaining Viking soldier's to save your lands from the hands of evil Mara.
The Graphics in Besieger are poor, slow and frustrating. The in-game animations of the characters are very life like, but the animation is let down by the poor heavily pixilated characters. It is for this reason that the graphics in Besieger wouldn't look out of place in Tomb Raider II. The characters are all very similar and it is hard sometimes to define one character from the next. On the other hand, the landscapes are fairly impressive and clearly convey a creative and careful thought process. While the patterns on the landscape are fairly stringent, meticulous attention has been paid to how the landscape is formed and laid out. Similarly, the between mission animations show creative potential. These animations are enticing and explain clearly the evolving storyline without going too far off the track.
Gameplay is always a crucial and important element, especially in the RTS genre, but is a factor that Besieger needed to revise and correct. While the missions can look fun and simplistic on the surface, once you get into the nitty gritty of the game, Besieger becomes either frustratingly difficult or annoyingly simple. There is no middle ground, and the result of this is short-lived gameplay. When you are playing the game, you can see that the creators were clearly influenced by the likes of Age of Empires and Populous. The incorporation of historic fact and melodramatic Viking victories would normally be the ingredients of a fun to play RTS, but having played the likes of Age of Empires, Besieger just can't cut the mustard. Conversely, one of the aspects of game play that is unseen in many other RTS that makes Besieger a joy to play is the camera control. You can view the map and your team of Vikings from any position without being limited to the regular North, South, East and Westerly views.
Besieger consists of various game modes including a tutorial, skirmish mode, multiplayer mode and single player mode. The tutorial is by far one of the best I have ever come across in a game. All the different aspects of the game are clearly and simply explained and a must for any beginner of the game. As a player, you are shown how to start your village, the ideal locations and even shown what the different battle formations are for. This is essential in a game like Besieger, the interface upon first sight, looks very simplistic but is in fact fairly complex; especially if you have never played an RTS before. However, for the more hardcore RTS fan, this tutorial will certainly leave very little to desire.
Skirmish mode is by far one of the strongest aspects in Besieger. While the missions can be sometimes frustrating they can also be far too easy at other times. The resolution to this fluctuation in difficulty levels is a good old skirmish to satisfy your Viking desires. The beneficial aspect of this mode is that it makes Besieger good old harmless gaming fun. You can battle till you drop and pit your wits against a fairly mediocre A.I to relieve the stress of the normal gameplay mode.
Similarly, multiplayer mode is pure mindless fun. There isn't the predictability of the in-game A.I and you aren't restricted to completing any certain objectives. The lack of objective in multiplayer mode allows much more freedom and desirability than that shown in the single player mode.
As far as soundtracks go, this one creates more atmosphere then a meeting between Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Clinton in a New York alley. It is dramatic and entertaining yet retains all the elements of simplicity that make a game compelling. The music sounds as if it were scored for a film, and the only let down is that it sounds as if it has been recorded on a Casio keyboard rather then by the New York Symphony Orchestra. Besieger makes up for it's below average gameplay by generating an effective and unique atmosphere with a period and nerving score.
Besieger has tried and in some respects succeeded to make a credible impact on the RTS genre, however, the average game play and the below average graphic capabilities make it more frustrating then taking a child shopping. Besieger is, all in all, nothing new; there is nothing that shouts creative genius, and in short, has all been done before. However, I do believe that should a follow up be in the making, as long as the poorer aspects of the game are corrected and perhaps reinvented Besieger has the chance to go that extra mile.
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