Besieger PC CD-ROM
Developed by Primal Software
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
Besieger is a tale of conflict between the Vikings and the Cimmerians, two races who used to live in peace. The peace ended when the leader of the Cimmerians, Konin, went in search of the legendary sword of Krom. With Konin temporarily out of the way his evil sister Mara, a sorceress, used her evil powers to take charge of the Cimmerians. The Vikings heard of Mara's evil actions and intent and began to prepare themselves. They sent a man called Barmalay to retrieve the legendary Thor's Hammer, a relic they could use to defend themselves against now aggressive Cimmerians. Not long after Barmalay and his companions left to search for Thor's Hammer, Mara and her forces attack and destroy the Vikings homeland. Barmalay is going to have to do much more than just find the hammer of Thor.
Besieger is a RTS game that combines the usual resource/economic management with combat. The game's campaign begins with the plight of Barmalay and then moves on to the efforts of Konin to regain control before finally seeing Barmalay and Konin uniting in an effort to finish Mara. It's great the way the campaign has been set out because it gives you the chance to experience all of the story rather than having to fill in the blanks. Once you're done with the campaign you'll have a skirmish mode that can be played against the AI or human opposition in multiplayer mode over a LAN or the Internet.
The game play is pretty much standard stuff (there are a few twists in there though) in that you'll have to get your economy up and running in order to provide the necessary units for your military pursuits. Research too has to be carried out and results in upgrades being able to be made, which will result in an increase of efficiency. Of course recent trends in RTS gaming has seen a move away from this classic RTS formula with the concentration simply being on military matters but it's an old formula and it works well. Some things are different though. Military units can't simply be built and you must train your workers to become military units. As you might expect this means that you can't amass large quantities of military units and it puts the brakes on any rushing tactics you might have thought of employing. You can change military units back to workers though should you need to, although they will have to train again.
Workers are the all import unit and not only collect resources, build structures and train as military units but they also drive siege weapons and are responsible for their maintenance. You don't create workers though as you simply build a house and then five of them will emerge one by one. Thankfully the interface allows you to select idle workers and allows you to put them to work quickly and efficiently. The interface also allows you to manage military units efficiently too. Your units can be grouped and placed into formations and you can set their behaviour in the usual manner too. The effect of the formations is somewhat limited thanks to the poor path finding though. Sending groups of units from point A to point B should not represent a problem but unfortunately it does. It's all too common for units to wander off a straight course to take an awkward route and this can lead to trouble as the stray units will run into enemies. Unless the area they are crossing is an expansive one you'll experience these path finding problems all too often. It's not a massive problem but it is an annoying one. Another problem is the AI of your enemies who will constantly head straight for disaster instead of showing any cunning.
Graphically Besieger looks fine and on a par with the other 3D RTS games out there. The game is in full 3D but whilst it looks good it's cursed with the main fault of any 3D game, poor camera control. It's never comfortable having to baby-sit a camera but in a RTS it's especially painful. Zooming your view out makes things a little easier but it's still not practical to have to constantly adjust the camera. You can switch to a basic camera and a camera that follows your units but none of the solutions are really ideal. Whilst the game looks good it's doesn't look good enough to bring our PC to it's knees, which it occasionally does. Most of the time it's fairly smooth but on occasionally the frame rate will do a bungee jump kind of dip, which on a Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card is pretty disappointing.
Besieger doesn't have any option for subtitles but as most of the verbal information within the game is delivered via both speech and text this isn't a problem. The cutscenes are subtitled and the subtitles are shown in black dialogue boxes so there's no problem in reading the text. Tutorials are delivered exclusively via text so again there are no problems for deaf gamers. Your objectives can be recalled at any time which is very useful, particularly if you reload a saved game that you haven't played in a while. In fact the only thing that isn't subtitled is the unit confirmations and the noises that highlight a fact that a worker or military unit is ready (you will see a pulsing circle on the mini-map to highlight this fact though so there aren't any real problems).
It's always difficult making a judgement on games like Besieger. On the one hand you can see an enjoyable game but on the other you can see the problems and it's always a difficult in assessing how detrimental they are to the game play. Whilst none of the problems are individually game ruining, collectively they prevent the game from appealing to most people and this is unfortunate. If you're an RTS enthusiast and can forgive the aforementioned problems then you'll find Besieger has a lot of potential and that the game could have been a lot better with some rather minor improvements. As it stands though it's not the game it could have been and that is unfortunate.
Game Rating: 6.5/10
All things considered it's a solid RTS but there are a few problems that really shouldn't be there.
No problems for deaf gamers.