Joan of Arc follows the life of the famous heroine, from her arrival in Orléans to her final battle in Compiègne. The game combines elements of two genres, as players find themselves switching between a third-person action and real-time strategy gameplay. Players will need to lead their army through eight maps consisting of strongholds, cities, forests, mountains, and rivers.
As Joan makes her way through each campaign, other great military leaders of the time period will join her cause. Some of these leaders will also become available for play later in the game. In the real-time strategy mode, users can provide precise commands to their troops as they siege the enemy with catapults, trebuchets, and battering rams.
In the third-person mode players will hack-and-slash their way to victory. Joan begins the game with limited warrior skills but will gain experience after each battle. As the player allocates points to different skills, Joan gains new combination attacks and abilities. Various weapons acquired throughout the game can also increase Joan's attack abilities.
Designer Trevor Chan is best known for classic strategy titles such as Capitalism and Seven Kingdoms. Enlight Software's latest game, Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc, marks his first real foray into the world of action and adventure. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc is plagued by common problems found in most mediocre action games.
Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc is primarily a single-player-only third-person action game, with Joan of Arc (as well as other French heroes) as the protagonist(s) fighting against the English pigdogs. It's also a hybrid real-time strategy game that allows you to move large clumps of units from a traditional overhead perspective, and then switch back to third-person view with the click of a button.
As an action/adventure, it's the usual suspects that hurt Joan of Arc's appeal. The camera, a vital component in any third-person game, behaves in such a frantic and unusable manner at times that it makes it impossible to play. When fighting in close quarters the camera whirls around, changing perspectives so as to cause motion sickness. It's impossible to get your bearings when fighting inside a building.
The A.I., as it is, isn't much better. In fact, it's pretty much non-existent. Everything is distance-triggered so English infantry will simply charge when you get within a certain range even if they can see you beforehand. If you locate a watchtower, you can pummel infantry at will if you have enough arrows. They simply congregate at the base of the tower while you pick them off one by one. Finding cover apparently has no meaning to the English.
The frustration continues with the invisible walls that surround each object in the game. It's extremely easy to get trapped by a one-foot-high fence. The engine doesn't allow you to simply jump over the fence -- you have to find a way around it, and it just doesn't make any sense. Combine this with the poor clipping and collision detection (Joan has a tendency to get stuck inside objects and horses magically float in mid-air when riding down a hill) and you are left with a game that feels more like a beta than a finished product.
Most of your time is spent fighting against vastly superior numbers, but Joan is particularly devastating and can take care of a lot of bad guys by herself. In fact, she is required to take out entire outposts. With combat being such a huge part of the game, it's a shame that it's so repetitive and uninteresting. Attacks are used with the left and right mouse buttons, and you can combine attacks in many different ways. The left button is a basic attack, while the right button performs a special "energy" attack that causes extra damage but requires sufficient energy to perform. You can also string attacks together by using a combination of left and right mouse clicks; it's a great idea in theory, but you really only need to master two techniques: the left mouse repeat attack (clicking the left mouse button repeatedly) and the right mouse repeat attack. That's about it.
The real-time strategy aspect of the game, while not groundbreaking, is interesting in that you can view a large fight from above and then press F2 and take part in the fight on a more personal level. There's no resource management in the RTS mode, but you can hire additional soldiers from a town barracks if one is nearby. The problem is that the real-time portion of the game isn't available until you are 5-8 hours into the campaign. In fact, the second half of the game is a whole lot more fun than the first, but you'll have to invest many hours into it before you actually get to the fun stuff. That's asking a lot.
Joan of Arc certainly has its good moments, but they're just too few-and-far between. There are some huge battles that take place that are chaotic as friend and foe stand toe to toe whacking each other. It provides the kind of frantic feel you'd expect. The graphics are also pretty good, which further enhances the big battle scenes.
The idea behind Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc isn't a bad one. The time period is rich and full of possibilities and makes for a wonderful game setting. The hybrid nature of the game, blending third-person action and real-time strategy, could work very well together if constructed the right way. But Joan of Arc has a lot of problems. From vanilla A.I. and a very limited game engine, to technical issues and a frustrating camera, it's a game that's hard to recommend.
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