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codeh4x0r has 7 chronicles

  1. codeh4x0r Bladestorm

    Player Chronicle -- Posted on Dec 05 2007

    Ever hear of this game before? My guess is no. I hadn't anyway. No hype, no advertisements, nothing. One of my friends called me very late at night one night and told me I *had* to download the demo for this game. So, I fired up the 360 and began the download. When it finished I launched the game and was treated to one of the best tactical simulations I've ever played. Ever. This demo impressed me so much, that I went out the very next day and bought it!

    This game is by the same guys that did Dynasty Warriors (Koei), so if you've played that, you'll be able to relate better to some of my descriptions of this game. If you haven't played Dynasty Warriors, then you will have no misleading preconceptions that the Dynasty Warriors players might have.

    Since I've mentioned Dynasty Warriors a couple of times, I'll draw the parallels out here to get them out of the way. Firstly, you are one soldier in a *massive* army. Also, the battlefield maps are very large (bigger than DW) and I don't think you could get from one corner to the other in a single "day" of battle without the use of items or a unit that can sprint. There are hordes and hordes of enemies to kill and you also gain levels as you defeat enemies, but not in the same way. This is pretty much where the similarities end. One thing that DW players should be aware of is that this is *not* a button mashing hack-n-slash game. While you do kill enemies by the hundreds, it is done more strategically.

    Ok, enough compare and contrast with Dynasty Warriors. This game is not Dynasty Warriors, but it can look like it to the casual observer.

    Bladestorm is set in the Hundred Years' War between England and France. I don't know how much basis this has in actual history, but at least in this game, both sides rely heavily on mercenaries for their battles. This is where you come in - as a mercenary. The main gathering point in this game is an unnamed tavern where contracts are posted by both the English and the French. You are free to choose whichever contracts suit your fancy out of the ones available. Most of the missions are randomly generated with the exception of storyline missions which will be marked as such.

    Once you've accepted a contract, you will immediately head out to the battlefield where the fun begins. When you first start a battle, you will have the option to start at any base the nation you're currently working for controls. Once you pick a starting base, you will enter the battlefield. At the beginning of the battle, you are just you, walking around, amongst the other friendly troops at your starting base. When you approach a friendly unit, however, you can personally command them by joining their squad! They will move with you (attempting to maintain formation) and attack as you command. While you can go off on your own and try to do things solo, this is the fastest way to get killed as you will be zerged mercelessly by enemy squads. Enemy cavalry are particularly nasty when you are without a squad (and sometimes even when you are with one).

    While you can command almost any friendly squad in the game, you must have the appropriate strategy book to do so. You start the game with Swords, Bows, and Horses which allow you to command those types of units, respectively. As you accomplish goals (kill enemies, kill enemy officers, capture bases), you will gain XP and Levels for the appropriate strategy book. The key fact here is that your squad does not gain levels, your skill in commanding that type of unit does. When you take command of a unit, their level will change to whatever your current strategy book's level is. If you never use archers, for example, then later in the game it will actually make your archer squads weaker when you command them directly. This, of course, will change as you gain levels with them, but the point remains.

    Every time you gain a level with a given strategy book, you will get Skill Points (SP) to spend to customize your units to your liking. Every unit will have a different set of attributes to increase, but one called Research is common to all units. Research will increase the amount of SP you get when you gain a level. Personally, I'm maxing this out first, but it does make it harder later on when you have no points in attack or defense. I had to spend some points on Inventory for my archers because they were always running out of arrows. Wink

    Anyway, in addition to customizing your units via SP, you can also buy equipment for them. It's important to note that you're buying equipment for the squad type (or strategy book), not an individual squad. At this point, it's also prudent to mention that each strategy book is broken into pages called Tomes. Each tome within a book will cover a different variant of that squad type. So with the Swords book, for example, there will be a tome for 1h swords, sword+shied, 2h swords, dual wield, and more (I haven't found/bought them all yet). I mention this here because when you buy equipment, not only is it applied to a specific strategy book, it's also applied to a specific tome within it, so if you want to buy an upgraded sword for all tomes in your book, you'll have to buy that many swords.

    All of this comes together back on the battlefield. I mentioned earlier that when you command a squad, they become the same level as you are with that unit type. This also sort of works in reverse. Whatever weapon/equipment that squad is using, you will be using it as well. If you command an archer squad, you will have a bow. If you command a cavalry squad, you will be mounted using a sword, spear, or lance, depending on what the squad has.

    The battles in Bladestorm range from small skirmishes to hit-and-run attacks to epic battles between 10 or more squads simultaniously! At the very base of the combat system is a sophisticated rock/paper/scissors engine. But instead of just three types (rock/paper/scissors), there are very many. I don't have an exact count off-hand, but I'm estimating around 24. For example, cavalry are good against swords and spears, but weak against archers and longspears. All unit types have strengths and weakneses to other unit types. Memorizing them all would be quite a chalenging task (especially trying to remember in the heat of battle!), so to address this, the game tells you by putting an "aura" around an enemy squad leader's information. A light aura means you will decimate them. A dark aura means you will (most likely) get your squad killed, and probably you, too! If you find yourself confronted by multiple enemy squads with mixed auras, you can switch which squad you're commanding in the middle of battle - lead your knife troops into battle with the enemy archers, leave the squad, then command a squad of cavalry to mow down the halberds. The tactical options are near endless. Speaking of mowing down halberds with cavalry, that's really really fun! Very Happy

    Each squad will have three special abilities that you can use at will. They don't get used up (with the exception of arrows, knives, and other thrown weapons - you can run out of ammo), but they take time to recharge. Some abilities, like Charge for mounted troops, will require you to hold the button down as long as you want the ability to continue while others are just click and forget. Some will be instantanious, and others, like Sprint, will have a continuing effect. Usage of these abilities can often mean the difference between victory and defeat, and some can even be used to help defeat an enemy with a dark aura (this is rare - try to avoid this!). In addition, there are special items that you can use to give a temporary effect to whatever squad you happen to be controlling or fighting. Added offense, increased defense, revive fallen troops, cause enemies to attack their allies, and many others. Using these in conjunction with your squad specials can lead to devestating results for your enemies. Smile

    With all of the strategic glory to be found in this game, there are a still few annoyances. First and foremost is the barkeep. He is annoying as hell and his voice grates on my nerves. That's a personal thing though - I'm sure someone will find him pleasant. Wink Also, you cannot fight exclusively for just one side. Eventually you will conquer all of the bases on the maps you have access to and the only contracts available will be from the other side. Additionally, you *must* complete storyline contracts to advance in the game, and these will come from either side. You can delay taking them as long as you like, but you will have to take them eventually. Some of the voice acting is pretty flakey, but to get past that, all one has to do is compare it to the original Resident Evil for PS1. That will be the standard for bad voice acting for ages to come, I think. Smile

    All in all, this game came out of nowhere and blindsided me with sweet awesome goodness and I will be putting many many hours into this to conquer all of France with the English and retake it all back with the French. I think this might be why the Hundred Years' War lasted for 100 years, eh?

    Wow, I didn't realize I'd written this much. Thanks for reading yet another of my novel-length reviews! Very Happy

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Chronicle Comments

codeh4x0r has 1 comment on this chronicle.

  1. BEN BEN
    Posted On Dec 05 2007

    You've done it again! Great review and I'll try and check this one out over the holiday break...