1400 The Guild
by JoWooD Productions
Developed by 4HEAD Studios
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Price : £29.99
the end of another year spins around I begin to think I've seen everything
the software industry has to offer, and think to some degree that it is
all getting a little bit repetitive, when suddenly I get the chance to
review Europa 1400 The Guild. It's a bit difficult to describe what this
game is like. In fact the content of the game is so huge that I would
need to spend months playing it to give an accurate review. Although that
would please me it wouldn't please JoWooD who have kindly let me review
this software. In this review I'll give my account of the time I had with
the game but bear in mind the game is huge and I won't be able to cover
it from all angles.
In essence what The Guild does is to drop you in the year 1400. Yes we're
talking medieval times. You pick your character, male of female, and as
a masterstroke of innovation you get to choose your parents. The characters
for the potential parents all have special traits such as poet, preacher,
thief, tradesman (or woman) and by picking a male and female character
your character is then created with the appropriate attributes (or talents
as they are known in this game) from the mix of the parents that you picked.
You'll also have some talent points to allocate yourself. When all this
is done you pick your appearance and profession. You'll then get to choose
what you want your goals to be or whether or not you want to simply play
without targets. The game plays from 1400 to 1600 and although your character
will never live this long it is upto you to make sure that they have children
and have a child of at least 12 when your character dies. If you don't
have a child of 12 years of age it's game over. If you do, you will assume
control of them. Basically then, it is upto you to create a dynasty that
lasts for 200 years and become successful in your chosen line of work.
The only problem is that you'll have rivals who will try to out do you
and see that you do not flourish.
& the daily grind
Each game day represents a season and a year, so therefore 1 year will
be spring, the next year summer etc. You are given action points per day
and can either accumulate them or use them to improve your skills and
develop your character's master grade standing. Studying handicraft for
instance uses up 2 action points. If you want to, you can change profession
but this will take up 8 action points so as you can see sometimes it pays
to accumulate action points. Typically you will start your day by making
sure your business is running OK. You must make sure that any products
you produce are taken to market and any raw materials you require are
collected. You can hire helpers to work for and run your business and
even they develop their skills as time progresses. As time passes you
will have opportunities to become involved in politics and to carry out
espionage against your rivals. Before you discount this last pastime let
me just say that your rivals will be out to get you so be careful.
real beauty of the Europa 1400 is that at the beginning of the game you
get a choice of which city to play in. You can choose London, Paris, Madrid,
Milan or Berlin. All of these cities have different characteristics and
require slightly different styles of play. There are five difficulty levels
to choose from too and this further increases the possibility for altering
the game. You can choose to be told of actual historical events in the
appropriate year (in text) or not. I don't think this affects the gameplay
(which is a shame) but it is there purely to increase your historical
knowledge. The historical events are specific to the city you are playing
in. You begin the game with a workplace and a house but as your finances
improve you can build other buildings for yourself. The city as a whole
will generally increase in size throughout the game as your rivals seek
to expand there influence.
The professions on offer are blacksmith, joiner, stone mason, alchemist,
perfumer, landlord, thief, preacher, trader, robber and guardsman. Whichever
profession you pick is going to have a significant effect on the style
of the gameplay you'll encounter. I chose the path of the preacher which
sees you begin in a church and be able to produce finished products such
as poetry and intermediate products (products that are used to create
finished products) such as paper. Each profession has 6 master grades.
You begin the game with the first master grade and as you progress, different
opportunities will arise for you in your career. For instance as a preacher
at master grade 3, you will be able to run an abbey and at master grade
5, you'll be able to run a cathedral. All of the buildings in the game
whether they be workplaces or accommodation, can have extra rooms put
on to them which give you extra activities to do. Of course all the professions
have their equivalents of this. The criminals occupations and the guardsman
are exceptions to this though and combat can be involved in their daily
routine. The criminals get their wealth by taking it and not earning it.
This style of play didn't suit me but I guess some gamers will like this
aspect of the game.
Fancy mixing it with the local councillors? It's all possible in The Guild.
As well as making a name for yourself honestly and progressing through
the political ranks you can also go the devious route by slandering and
spying on your opposition in order to find something to rubbish them with.
Beware though as duels can be fought and revenge can be taken by exactly
the same means as you use. There are 30 civic and 6 honorary offices up
for grabs and with them come responsibilities and privileges. You'll find
yourself attending court and meetings where someone is trying to be thrown
out of office etc. There is so much going on that this review would be
massive if I were to mention it all. Suffice to say it's all top stuff.
Risks & Marriage
Like in real life you or rather your character will eventually die and
it won't always be from old age. There is a risk of the plague or even
pneumonia. Should your character die and you have no offspring who's 12
years old then it's game over. In order to have an offspring you'll have
to marry. Courtship is a simple affair and to do well you have to send
your intended gifts in order to please them. Just like in real life you
don't have to stay married and divorce is a possibility. There are other
diseases such as hair loss or dysentery to name but two which will affect
your social standing and cause you to lose favour in some quarters. Traders
and craftsmen can even acquire forgetfulness and lose some of their skills.
It's a hard life in The Guild. Thankfully you can buy special items, rings
and such like, that will temporarily improve your social standing.
What genre do you put The Guild in? Well I suppose it's fair to say that
it is an RPG with a big helping of strategy. However it is a very unique
gameplay experience and to say it's a mix of RPG and strategy doesn't
really do it justice.
so the above should tell you about what the game is like, although I can't
comment on all of the professions because of time limitations but suffice
to say it's one magnificent product. The game's graphics are OK and appropriate
for the style of the game. The game is in 3D although you can only view
the inside of the buildings from certain camera angles. There is a lot
of manoeuvring to be done in this game and thankfully you can set up hotkeys
(which bind to keys F1 to F11) to quickly get around. Pressing the Ctrl
key when you are in a building will show you what can be interacted with.
This is a useful addition as it would be too awkward when you're starting
Guild is fine for deaf gamers. The introduction is not subtitled, which
is a shame as it sets the scene for the game but this does not affect
the gameplay. The tutorial is given in text as well as verbally and messages
are can be recalled by clicking on the message icon on the message bar.
The cutscenes that are in the game for certain events give information
via text and speech so you'll know what's going on. During the game there
are verbal messages which appear when a text message appears on your message
bar. The text message usually gives you more information than the verbal
message so there's no problem here. It would have been better if an option
to automatically make the message open could have been included though.
There are some unit confirmation voices such as when you ask the cart
to pick up some raw materials from the market. These are not subtitled
but they do not harm the gameplay for a deaf gamer.
1400 The Guild is the most original PC game this year. The gameplay is
both addictive and deep and will keep you hooked for ages. You can even
play against 8 other people over a network (although a soon to released
patch will fix the stability issues that exist at the moment). The best
news of all though is that an expansion pack is in the works. Keep an
eye on this title. It may not have the hype of other titles but don't
let that fool you. I have only been able to comment on a fraction of the
game's features because there are just so many. This is one incredible
Game Rating: 9.5/10
Surely one of the best games this year on any format, The Guild is an
incredible experience that no one should miss.
Although not 100% deaf gamer friendly it still is perfectly enjoyable
for deaf gamers.