PS3 Review – HISTORY Great Battles Medieval

October 11, 2010Written by Zak Islam

HISTORY Great Battles Medieval is the second installment in the HISTORY Great Battles series. This strategy role-playing game is described as being one of the most detailed and realistic medieval combat models to ever grace a current generation console. HISTORY GBM gives players the opportunity to relive history by leading armies through some of the famous medieval wars. Noticeable figures featured in the game range from the likes of Joan of Arc to Henry V where they use all new weapons and battle tactics on the field. Are these historical figures and events better suited for the classroom than your console? Let’s find out…

The game is based on several events during the Hundred Years War, a historical period where some of the most famous medieval conflicts fought between France and England consequently shaped the future of both countries for centuries to follow. The game attempts to recreate and deliver the feel of medieval war, with thousands of characters simultaneously quarrelling, which features an accumulative 70 medieval battles, 26 of which take place in the Hundred Years War, itself, from 1337 through to 1453.

The combat system resembles classic turn-based play, in which players control armies moving along the lines of an invisible grid to user-designated waypoints, chosen prior to the actual attack. The role-playing aspect of the game is pleasant at its peak, and taking your army raging into a batch of opposing soldiers is rather satisfying and, at the same time, addictive. Players are able to command a fairly large amount of over 20 different squad units that accurately mirror historical counterparts.

The game has a noticeable emphasis and focus on individual characters. Playable generals can be leveled up and improved upon by acquiring experience points from a successful victory on the field. These are all displayed in a skill tree, which shows a variety of weapons, equipment, and abilities. Players can then use these to power up your items and, as a result, will see significant improvements with their general and his army. Players will be able to take their armies through three gameplay modes: Campaign mode lets single-player gamers experience history through the eyes of the military commanders; Skirmish mode features multiple territory battles including a practice Sandbox mode; and lastly, HISTORY Great Battles Medieval has an online multiplayer component where players will be able to join a game or host their own in a two-player head to head battle.

Continuing on, in regards to the player being rewarded with various in-game elements such as experience points, they’ll be gaining more and more money, new equipment, and units as they progress. These rewards allow for customization to the in-game army, for example, knights, cavalry, archers, and more with over 100 fighting, combat and weapon skills – a neat feature which adds a healthy portion of replayability – can be customized. Adding to the replayability of HISTORY GBM, various missions feature sub-objectives on top of the main objectives.

One of the game’s restrictions which can be quite frustrating is the lack of being able to command the entire army at once. Instead, the player has to control and move small units, one at a time. Players who have previously played the Total War series, will have to adapt to this tweaked system. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as, although it starts out to be frustrating and bewildering at times, once a few missions are completed, the birth of a distinctive yet clever system can easily be seen.

Visually, the game isn’t going to set any benchmarks  for its looks. Battles will see anything from a hundred to a few thousand soldiers battling it out with no noticeable drops in framerate despite all that is going on in the battlefield. Ultimately, there is a healthy amount of variation in animations which effectively prevents the soldiers from looking like clones of one another. Sound is average at best. Idle units will be banging their shields about in an effort to taunt the enemy and triumphant units will cheer with delight upon destroying enemy units.

HISTORY GBM, intelligently keeps its emphasis solely on the game’s plot: the Hundred Years War. Before each battle starts the, footage from the History Channel gives the player a better perception of what they’re about to dive into before they head to battle. The developers have done a moderately good job on recreating and using the footage for a more authentic, overall playing experience.

The game offers a fascinating storyline paired with decent visuals and interesting gameplay elements. However, History Great Battles Medieval is ultimately not a title you would want to purchase if you’re already a Total War player. However, at its core, it’s a fun experience and at the very least worth a rent.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Engaging and addictive gameplay elements

+ RPG fundamentals are present

– Graphics grossly underdeliver

5 out of 10