Elven Legacy PC DVD
Published by: 1C Company
Developed by: 1C: Ino-Co.
Elven Legacy is a hex-based, turn-based fantasy strategy game that offers a few single-player campaigns, an assortment of single-missions and a multiplayer mode supporting hotseat, LAN and Internet play. It also offers a couple of tutorials to get you up to speed with how the game plays (which, as we'll see in a moment, aren't that useful for deaf gamers). The non-linear campaigns are actually quite enjoyable, not because of the storyline which is poor to say the least but because of the challenging nature of the missions you'll take part in. The campaigns allows you to play as the Elves, Humans and Orcs. Initially you'll begin by taking charge of an Elven commander called Lord Sagittel, an Elven sorceress called Gylven and their forces as they hunt for a runaway mage. You'll run into countless enemies and play through a variety of missions that steadily increase in difficulty.
During the course of the campaign you'll get to recruit a variety of different units and the game includes quite a good variety of units too. The game does a good job of introducing new units and abilities as the campaign unfolds meaning that you're not overwhelmed with a ton of information in the early stages of the game. The game also encourages you to not be wasteful with your units as your units will gain experience, level-up and gain new perks. Additionally, there is always the possibility of your units finding artefacts, which can enhance their abilities, during the course of a mission. You'll even get the opportunity to upgrade your units between missions although this can be expensive and gold isn't exactly in plentiful supply in the game. You'll want to keep your more experienced units, with all of their perks and abilities, because the missions really become tricky as you progress through the campaign and you're not going to get very far if you're constantly calling on raw recruits.
The game is fairly traditional in its approach, if a little light in some aspects such as resource management, and will appeal to fans of the genre but it's also very accessible and won't give newcomers too many problems. The game does have a couple of rough edges in its presentation that detract from the experience however. The translation to English wasn't quite as good as it could have been and at times you'll notice the dialogue seems a little awkward. Deaf gamers will notice that some sections of the tutorials are subtitled and some are not. Hearing gamers will notice that the parts of the tutorials that are subtitled are delivered in Russian and the parts that are not subtitled are in English. As far as we're concerned it's disappointing that sections of the tutorials are not subtitled but why only redo some of the voice work in English? It smacks of a rushed effort and it does hurt the general presentation of the game. The game's storyline is rather poor, possibly another side effect of a poor translation, and this does damage the game's appeal somewhat. It's also a shame because there's not much wrong with how the game plays and it really deserves a quality storyline. It's also difficult to feel any attachment to the main hero characters in the game because they are just so sterile. They don't have any charm or personality and whilst that's by no means a requirement for games in this genre, it certainly helps to keep you interested.
Graphically, Elven Legacy can simply be regarded as looking good enough. The character designs are quite good although personally I think the Elven women are showing too much of their cleavage but I daresay some will regard that as a selling point. When zoomed out you'll view your forces as a single character and when you zoom in you'll see the individual units that make up your forces. You can also configure this to either permanently show the large single character or the individual units if you wish. The maps that you'll play on look fairly decent but certainly aren't as impressive as in some of the other games in the genre. The interface is well laid out and is about as user-friendly as it could be.
On the whole Elven Legacy doesn't do a bad job of catering for deaf gamers but it could have been better. Part of the intro movie Isn't subtitled, which is unfortunate as it means you're missing out on some of the background to the game's storyline. The tutorials, as we mentioned earlier, have significant chunks of them that are not subtitled and this makes their usefulness to deaf gamers questionable. The main game itself however fares better. All of the dialogue is subtitled and you can read the text at your own pace as you need to click the left mouse button to progress the conversation. All dialogues are accompanied by character portraits so you can see who is saying what at all times. Mission briefings and objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time. You are notified in text when a particular unit's morale has been 'broken' and the game also does a good job of visually showing damage values that have been caused during a battle. The game makes it clear where you should be heading at all times and you're notified when you're coming close to the maximum number of turns that you can take to earn specific awards.
Fantasy turn-based strategy enthusiasts will definitely enjoy what Elven Legacy has to offer. The game-play mechanics are solid, there are no real AI or interface problems that could make the game frustrating in any way and there is definitely some replay value here thanks to the single-player campaign being a non-linear affair. The game is marred by an uninteresting storyline and a slightly awkward English translation however and it would definitely have helped if the main characters in the game had some sort of personality. Fans of the genre won't be perturbed by those problems however and what they will find here is a game that's well worth their time and effort.