History: Great Battles Medieval is a good concept: take actual stories from battles of the past as narrated by The History Channel and pair them with a strategy game. Unfortunately, the gameplay is too frustrating to be much fun.
In HGBM, you play campaigns as either the English or the French. Before each battle is a brief video clip that looks like it could have aired directly on The History Channel, except that the resolution is terrible. These intro clips are informative and a neat idea, but often feel disconnected from the actual battles that follow.
In every battle you have control over various groups of units. Their types include foot soldiers, archers, heavy cavalry, siege machines, and more. There’s definitely a paper-rock-scissors mechanic that makes certain unit types strong or weak against other types. This mechanic is present in many good strategy games, but unfortunately for HGBM, it doesn’t work to great effect because discerning the type of each group at a glance is difficult unless you want to zoom way in. You can pause the game at any time and move the cursor to check types and equipment, but it gets cumbersome.
While the battles often start off strategic, they quickly degenerate into groups attacking each other in a chaotic manner. Though pausing the game to issue orders will give you complete control over a unit, once a unit has carried out an order, they act on their own. Since it’s so hard to tell unit types, you have to pause the game frequently to reissue orders and make sure units aren’t engaging in battles that they’re going to lose. Any fun quickly gets sucked out of the game in larger battles.
Between missions you can purchase upgrades for your units in the form of equipment and abilities, but it seems as though this never makes much of a difference; the paper-rock-scissors formulas still weigh-in more strongly on which groups will win.
If you’re a fan of The History Channel and of strategy games, you might enjoy playing through Great Battles Medieval on the easiest setting just to learn more about the military history of England and France some 600 years ago. But if you’re looking for a solid strategy game, your time and money would be better spent elsewhere.
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Platform: Xbox 360
Also available for: Windows
About the Author
|Markham Asylum is a founding member of Delta Attack. His tier-1 favorite genres are role-playing, puzzle, and strategy. His tier-2 are adventure, shooter, and platformer. He strives to provide spoiler-free postings whenever possible.
Markham Asylum has written 399 posts on Delta Attack.