In 1997 a complex strategic game called Seven Kingdoms was released to critical acclaim and was popular with PC gamers across the globe. 11 years later, Enlight Software have released a follow up which is a fantasy RTS title pitting demons against humans.
Unfortunately this time around the game is extremely simplistic and has a plethora of serious bugs and glitches. There are few choices during gameplay and the campaign missions do not flow in any kind of story form and play more like skirmishes.
During my several days of testing, the game must have crashed about 25 times and this is with both ATI and Nvidia powered hardware. The game is actually so buggy I contacted the developer but have yet to receive any information on possible fixes or patches. They sure as hell need to release an update in the near future or this game will be destined for the bin. These crashes range from BSOD’s to lockups requiring a Ctrl-Alt-Del to return to the desktop. To make matters worse the crashes cause some rather serious issues on ATI hardware, so a reboot is required otherwise the game will reload with graphical tearing and artefacts. Just before I wrote this review I actually experienced a hardlock which required a full game reinstall. This is really not acceptable in any sense of the word.
After eventually getting the game to run for a few hours with an Nvidia 8800 GTS I was further stunned to notice that the game also has scripting errors, such as doors or gates not opening, forcing the player to restart the given level. Some campaign missions have bugs so severe that it is even impossible to finish the game after wiping out every single enemy unit in the game. The computer AI is appalling and the units frequently get stuck in each other as well as with terrain objects such as buildings or rocks.
The game is also limited to 1024×768 or 1280×1024, so if you (like me) have a widescreen monitor you are currently limited to running in a stretched 4:3 format. When I tried to change the resolution to 1280×1024, the game crashed.
The graphics are severely sub standard with drab, bland, pixelated textures covering the surfaces of the equally boring units and buildings. The audio is acceptable with the voice acting being a surprising highlight, which somewhat belies the shoddy nature of the rest of the game.
Equally so the gameplay is mundane and even writing about it is painful, especially as the original two titles in this series were indepth, sophisticated strategy epics which combined RTS gameplay with empire micro management. You can’t even control the Seven Kingdoms the game was named after, the only options you have are to play as humans or demons. This is such a shame as the Chinese and Persians had such great depth and originality with their units and structure options. The humans in this game are so incredibly boring I almost wanted them to die when I was controlling them, you can control various factions such as the Saxons but they are all so similar the only differences I could notice was the visual appearance.
The idea of advancing through ages has been stolen from the Age Of Empires saga and there is nothing fresh or inspiring being brought to the table, just a bug ridden copy of one of strategies greatest series.
The demons are slightly more entertaining with seven realm factions available, such as flame, ice and plague units. Some of the monsters look cool however it is not long before you notice that (similar to the humans) most of the factions play almost identically particularly as two basic units, larvae and succubi are forced upon them all. Summoning troops is the highlight with some appealing units such as the plague demons. Demonic resource gathering revolves around collecting blood to fuel the troops, however in practice it becomes another boring chore to have to deal with. Are you bored yet?
The game options are also sadly lacking and do nothing to enhance the game as they are all disjointed and have no flowing story line in which to immerse the player.
All the campaigns rely on you doing one thing, building as many units as possible and attacking the enemy in a head on charge. If you have all the units powered up and have as many as you can build you are guaranteed to never lose. Yawn …
Skirmishes play much the same as the campaign but are more fun as you get to choose the map, your faction and the starting age. You cannot take the skirmishes online either as there is no multiplayer support and the only option you have, is if you know a friends IP, then you can create a game and play together.
Campaigns and skirmishes both rely on you taking over neutral villages with your human ambassador or demon succubi units either by force or by diplomacy. If the AI was even average this might be an interesting edge to the game, however it is simply abysmal and a simple mass attack will get the village to your side.
Seven Kingdoms: Conquest is an utterly rubbish game riddled with bugs, glitches and unfinished level design. With about 14 patches it might become an average game but as it stands I cannot recommend the game to even the most easily pleased strategy fan.
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