At a glance Buttle Realms does little to inspire confidence. In (act, graphically it looks positively outdated. The stand itself didn't even have any scantily clad women for us to rest our weary eyeballs on. So, we were about to move along when suddenly a man appeared and started babbling about obscured vision.
Out of politeness (and a certain amount of empathy) we listened to his curious tale. Suddenly we found ourselves gathered around a monitor, shoving each other aside for a better look. This reversal of opinion was due to the fact that BR employs stealth-based gaineplay very similar to Desperados and Commandos. The realistic line-of-sight engine brings elements such as reconnaissance, sneaking and ambushing into play in a way we've not seen in a traditional RTS before.
We were also intrigued by the way players have the freedom to use resources in a much more liberal way than usual. Water can be used to extinguish fires, increase the growth rate of rice and quench the thirst of peasants. Horses can be trained as warhorses or simple farm animals. In this way, nearly every resource in the game has multiple uses, and it's up to the player to discover the best way of employing them. In fact, the whole game is about choices and repercussions, and is quite similar in some respects to Black & White.
And like B&W, BR has a strong RPG focus running through it. At the start of the game players choose which one of four clans (Dragon, Serpent, Lotus or Wolf) they would like to belong to. Units then receive different upgrades depending on which clan they are part of. It's good to see some originality going into the units too, with the bizarre creations including firework-wielding chemists, werewolves, Zen archers and sumo wrestlers with cannons wedged into the folds of their flab.
Maybe we were being told a pack of lies or maybe, just maybe, there's something here that might be worth keeping an eye on. After all, a game that's a mixture of Age Of Empires, Desperados and Black & White, with a hint of Manga surrealism thrown in, doesn't sound too bad at all.
2018-10-29 Battle Realms game added.