History: Great Battles Medieval, I’ve only given it the briefest of tries, but from what I’ve seen in just the tutorial, its got a lot of potential.
Its like Total War, only turn based, with Card based Specials. Now that ticks three boxes of mine in terms of gameplay.
The Total War series have always tried too hard to be too real time, and you often get a sense of too much UI chaos not enough strategy. With the turn based offerings here, and the unit placement being physical boxes on the map, you have more strategy like a traditional turn based hex wargame really. But you still get to play out the action in real time, only its pausable, using the space bar to issue more commands.
The graphics are not bad, a major step forward from previous titles, if the animation seems a little “stiff” in places. The idea of being able to employ certain higher effects provided by the battle cards, feels like it might give you more strategic decisions at the commander level, rather than just fitting the rock/paper/scissors jigsaw pieces together of combat.
Upon pausing the game, you can see clearly where your units are and where the enemy is, because they are highlighted in blocks of red and blue, so it becomes much easier to make offensive and defensive decisions based on layout and positioning, almost at-a-glance, something I’d say you’d have difficulty with any of the Total War series.
I must say from the brief nibble I’ve had, I like it, I like the turn-based principles behind it, I like idea of the cards, and the boardgame like shuffling of your troops during combat and pursuit.
I’d like to see the cards and the UI to be a bit more ornate and polished, but I look forward to exploring the strategy within the campaign.
Currently only available as a download for the PC at Slitherine’s website, but in February 2010 it will be available on consoles.