Review | Elven Legacy: Siege
Format: PC | Genre: Turn Based Strategy | Publisher: Paradox Interactive | Developer: Ino-Co | Release Date: 17/11/2009 | RRP: £7.95
By Jennifer Allen
I felt broken and inadequate after finishing my time with Elven Legacy’s last expansion, Ranger, having struggled so much to succeed even on Easy mode. Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment or insane, then, as here I am reviewing the second expansion. I suspect it’s actually a sign of slightly masochistic leanings, which are quite necessary for Siege. It’s even harder than Ranger, which in turn was even harder than the already brutal original game. It makes me wonder if the next expansion pack, Magic, will be so difficult that it reduces the strongest of men to tears within minutes of playing.
I have to admit, my enthusiasm for being mentally pummelled by an extremely calculating enemy AI is starting to wane. While the previous two titles would make me quit the game in despair, I was still always keen to return for more. This time around, however, I found myself increasingly less eager. It’s getting to the stage where the punishment is starting to feel like too much to bear.
At first I thought I was in for an easier ride when I realised that, unlike in Ranger, Siege frequently allows you to control a number of units at a time, rather than constantly going it alone. Surely with large numbers of troops, you’d a chance while undertaking various scouting or invasion missions? Er. No, actually. Not when the enemy has at least twice as many troops as you do. One ill-advised move could still cause certain death within a turn or two, and it’s likely you’ll find yourself on the defensive all the time, even when you’re technically meant to be attacking.
Much like the original game, placement of your troops is crucial. When one of the critical factors to success is keeping your main character alive, it’s vital that you keep him protected. Similar strategies should be used to ensure that archers are protected from infantry troops, as one would expect in any battle scenario. Despite the great frustrations at times, it’s a great touch, one that so many games forgo in favour of making their titles more accessible. It’s about time that a game demonstrated just how essential a sound strategy really is.
The AI will beat you into submission if you ignore such basic requirements, even more so than Elven Legacy and Ranger did in the first place. As we’ve come to expect from this series, you generally lose because you’re not good enough, never because the game has cheated you out of victory. Even the most ardent of RTS gamers should expect to suffer, though, especially if there are any lapses of concentration in the planning stages. As was the case with the previous games, it’s possible to achieve a Gold victory in each mission, thus showing off your godly prowess within the genre. Good luck with that, and I would dearly love to meet someone who has managed to do this with all of the campaign missions.
For the Elven Legacy fan, there is a lot to enjoy here. Much like Ranger, this expansion pack is modestly priced while still offering plenty of content in the form of 19 new campaign missions and three new heroes to control at various points. The storyline is the typical sort of tale that has been told a thousand times before, full of warring elves and irritated humans. The graphical style is still uniquely old school, yet charming and intricately detailed.
But ultimately, it’s only fans of the previous titles that will love Siege. It doesn’t change the formula at all; it simply provides more challenging missions than ever for those masochistic types who’ve come to adore the series so much. Edging towards frustrating for everyone else, just don’t contemplate going near it if you like your strategy games to be of the tamer sort. You’ll only have nightmares.