Great Invasions Review

Great Invasions is an ambitious game, covering a historically accurate RTS rendition of battles from 350 to 1066 AD. Right off the bat some of you are turned off because those particular years don’t bring to mind any mainstream titles to compare them to. Despite the fact that many of us will be in unfamiliar territory, the scope and accuracy of this title will impress, even if the rest of it doesn’t.

Now let’s get something out of the way: this game is missing some vital pieces. You read through the short instruction booklet and fire it up and you are LOST. Unless you’re very lucky or a huge historical war buff, you will be assailed by choices that are seemingly meaningless or confusing. Playing like a giant living game of Risk, you’re plunged from one massive invasion to the next, while juggling multiple countries, armies, wars etc. Yes, the game is historically accurate, but that makes it even harder, as battles waged everywhere that you have to streamline like some god-commander who couldn’t possibly keep track of it all.

This is not to say the game is impossible or stupid; quite the contrary, it’s very involved. You can spend weeks or even months getting good at this game. It’s not going to wow you with any particular graphical flair, and it’s not going to give you even the slightest benefit of the doubt. Although there are a few options to ‘loosen up’ the historical accuracy of the game and turn it into more of manageable series of battles, that is not the default setting, or, some would argue, the point of the game.

If you’re hoping to test my knowledge of dark ages war trivia, you’re in for a long cold wait. However, from playing the game and using its paradigms you can figure out that you’re placed in everything from the Justinian battle for Roman West, to the Huns attacking the Alans while the Persian army invades the Eastern Roman Empire. Let me reiterate, this game is NOT for casual players. It’s not easy to pick up and play, and probably requires a socially removed lifestyle to enjoy to the fullest. Decisions early on in the game can lead to utter disaster as you innocuously allow countries to take actions that have no context at that point in time, but lead to you getting your ass handed to you by 4 combined armies who are mad as hell at your "offenses against their nations" later on.

Most events are presented by a series of pop-ups and lengthy text explanations of some historical event, causing you to jump from place to place on a cool stylized version of a classic scholastic map. There are little to no graphic options, very little in the way of audio, and a ton of typographical errors that range from barely noticeable to horrifically bad. (The game is translated from French.) There’s also no live 3D graphics or much of anything beyond what you’d find on a well made table top game. There is a multiplayer mode, but only with direct player to player (IP based) gameplay, with no matching service to speak of.

When you start the game you simply play as a ‘team’ — blue, yellow, green, etc — which involves a bunch of independent states and nations which add to the confusing and frenetic nature of the game as you’re forced to make decisions for vastly different groups of people for some common goal that both makes them happy and achieves your goals. I think I’ve driven the point home before, but this game is amazingly complex and will simply not be enjoyed by the majority of gamers at large. You can tell from playing it that it is very authentic and detailed and would probably represent the holy grail of gaming to a few select history buffs out there, so this is definitely for that crowd. It takes different people to make the world go round, so if you’re a fan of uber-complicated dark ages warfare, you know you need this game. The rest of you can probably move along.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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