Back in April Paradox Interactive released Elven Legacy, the follow-up to Fantasy Wars. In my review, I praised the turn-based battle system and story, but criticized the difficulty and creeping sense of sameness, and eventually concluded by advising gamers to ‘Try It’ for the main game. Since then I have replayed it a bit here and there, and my fondness for the game has grown – it is still difficult, still not as good as King’s Bounty: The Legend, and I would still rate it as a ‘Try It’. After its release, Paradox Interactive announced that they would expand Elven Legacy with a trilogy of $9.99 DLC modules rather than a single huge expansion. It is an interesting concept, so let’s see how they did with the first add-on, Ranger!
A comment about the reviews for these add-ons: because they are specialized and limited DLC that pertain directly to the main Elven Legacy game, I will not spend too much time rehashing the core game in terms of how it works and plays and what it looks like. If you are interested in those things head back to my original review of the game. What I will do is address the changes the add-on makes to the core game, and also the elements of the add-on itself.
Elven Legacy: Ranger features a single campaign with 16 missions, focused around a single hero class: the ranger. The story focuses on the human world this time, and tells of the ranger Cornelius sent off to scout Illis for the Order of Marcus, which is facing destruction and decides to wage war against Duke Alivarez and capture his land in Mirralia. You meet up with the two other heroes – Captain Lucius and Sir Alberte – and together work to complete your mission.
As was true in the original, right from the start you get to make choices about how to conduct your campaign: you can use stealth or take a more direct and political approach. Naturally either course is full of challenging turn-based battles. The interesting difference from the original game is that you start off alone and have to complete some missions with just Cornelius and perhaps a couple of support troops.
Since the game is focused on the Ranger class, it is nice to see that the developers have given him some interesting attack capabilities, including a quick response that will usually get in an attack before any enemies can react, and he can also counter-attack. This helps a great deal, especially when you are greatly outnumbered.
In terms of technical elements, whereas the original game was loaded with voice acting, the expansion has none. This is not such a big deal for me, as I tend to play with subtitles on and it is something I’ve seen in expansions frequently through the years. However, having no voice acting means dealing solely with the translated text, and while the overall translation is better than the original, there are a number of times when things got confusing. The graphics and controls are still very well done, and remain largely untouched.
Many folks I spoke to had issues with the overall difficulty of the original (as well as disliking the time limits), and they should be happy that Ranger makes things a bit more approachable. You will still often require more than one attempt to complete a mission, but things have definitely been dialed back. Well … except for the beginning, since as I mentioned you start the game alone and can easily get killed if take the wrong approach. You really need to stop and think before making choices – get the lay of the land, then start your turns.
Elven Legacy: Ranger does what it is supposed to do: smooths out the wrinkles of the original game somewhat, adds on new content and characters, and provides a good sized campaign at a decent price. As an added bonus, all of the little decisions you get to make can result in significantly different repeated playthroughs. So if you enjoyed the original game by all means grab this now! You won’t regret it!
+ Solid turn-based combat system
+ Great value for the price
+ Decreased difficulty
+ Decent story
- No voice acting
- Poor translations cause occasional confusion
- Time limits can STILL be frustrating
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: 10/20/09
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
ESRB Rating: Teen
Source: Review code provided by publisher