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, and we already found out that the Ranger add-on was a solid value, so let’s see how they did with the second add-on, Siege!
A comment about the reviews for these add-ons: because they are specialized and limited DLC that pertains 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: Siege picks up several months after the events of Elven Legacy: Ranger, since the Order of Marcus returned and founded a new kingdom on the continent. This story sees the outcast elves under the leadership of Lord Saggitel crossing into human lands to find armies ready and waiting. There are 19 huge missions in this single campaign, with three new heroes (Sir Karel, Inquisitor Morcius and Captain Adrian) and two armies to control. The campaign takes you through dwarven fortresses, elven cities, and historical human cities in a series of epic battles befitting the title of the add-on.
I had mentioned how the Ranger expansion started you off making choices; Siege integrates choices and consequences even more deeply throughout the game. This goes beyond merely awarding medals for reaching goals in a certain amount of time: how you choose and perform in a mission has an impact on how things play out in subsequent missions. But of course the medal system remains: depending on how well you do you get a certain medal, and that gives you bonus troops and items, and eventually gaining enough Gold medals can get you a special bonus mission. As a result you will often be replaying missions more than a couple of times to climb the ranks from failure through Gold medalist!
Elven Legacy: Siege is again identical to the Ranger expansion in terms of not having any voice acting. At this point it is a fair assumption that the Magic expansion won’t have any either. For me it is a fair trade-off to get such a large expansion with such a breadth of content for such a great price. The graphics and controls are still very well done, and remain largely untouched. I found that the game engine ran into some issues with the scope of some of the battles the developers tried to construct – the game is suited for mid-scale encounters, but not the epic-scale set-pieces they attempted. Still it provided more thrills than frustrations!
Speaking of frustration, while the Ranger expansion dialed back the difficulty, Siege brings it right back to the level of the original game. After the initial mission hinting that the lower difficulty would remain, the game quickly becomes punishing, and you can expect to completely fail a few missions along the way. You really need to step back on many occasions and just think things through if you want to survive, let alone achieve a Gold victory!
Elven Legacy: Siege once again delivers tremendous value in an add-on – there are more hours of fun and challenge in this $10 package than you get in many games costing $60! Most of what you will see comes from the previous games, but some of the environments are all new, as are the heroes and the manner of approaching the epic struggles. I have been thrilled at how much value they have delivered in this budget package and am constantly enjoying this franchise more and more. Those who enjoyed the original game will absolutely love this add-on!
+ Solid turn-based combat system
+ Great value for the price
+ Decent story
+ Huge set-piece battles
+ Solid graphics
+ Possibility to win … but still lose
- No voice acting
- Increased difficulty
- Poor translations cause occasional confusion
- Time limits can STILL be frustrating
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: 11/17/09
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
ESRB Rating: Teen
Source: Review code provided by publisher