It's True Though, Isn't It? There's hardly an goes by without a review or preview of a real-time strategy game. This can mean one of two things: either this is such a popular genre that publishers can make as many of these games as they like, safe in the knowledge that gamers will snap them up with relish, or the constant appearance of the things is down to a long-standing attempt to cash in as much as possible on the continued success of C&C: Red Alert and its add-on offspring.
Whatever the case, Seven Kingdoms is the latest arrival. We'd love to say at this point that it breaks new ground and represents a real step forward for the genre, but there wouldn't be any point - we know that you always look at the score first, so you'd know we'd be lying through our teeth.
That's not to say there's anything particularly wrong with it, it's perfectly playable and all that but... tell you what, it's better explained with a blow-by-blow account of what happened from the time the game came in for review to the time the score was decided upon.
Three games come in for review: Seven Kingdoms, Uprising and Human Onslaught (Warwind 2). I argue with Charlie over who reviews what. We stare at the screenshots on the backs of the boxes and Charlie says, Til have Uprising." "Why?" I ask. "It just looks better, I'll have this one," he says, and runs off before I can stop him. Charlie obviously reached the same conclusion as me when he looked at the screenshots. Uprising looks like it's a unique take on the genre, whereas the other two look like, well, two real-time strategy games. Shit, that means I've got to review two of the things in one weekend. Oh well, who knows, one of them might surprise me the same way Total Annihilation surprised just about everybody by doing the same things as all the other C&C wannabes, but doing it a hell of a lot better. I take home. First up, Seven Kingdoms. I load it u get confused, stare at the manual for a bit become unconfused, and get into the garni proper. It seems alright. Four hours later it seems more than alright (probably because by now I know what I'm doing). It lulls me into a false sense of security. I think I'm having fun: building, spying, fighting - you know the kind of thing. Another two hours down the line, I've more or less had enough. I suddenly realise that it has nothing I haven't seen before in the multitude of real-time games I've ploughed through over the last year. Like I said, there's nothing particularly wrong with it, but in some ways that's the biggest irritation of all - I'd rather play it for an hour, realise it's total shite, and duly give it a royal slagging.
I've probably put you off the game completely by now. Er, I didn't really mean to do that, because there are a lot of people out there who will want to buy this game. To determine whether or not you're one of them, please follow me to the next paragraph.
Answer true or false to the following statements:
- I love real-time strategy games and can't get enough of them. In fact, I'd probably die of a broken heart if there wasn't at least one of them released every month.
- I love computer games, but I'm completely skint. If someone gave me a new game to play I'd play it to death no matter what it was.
- I'm new to the genre. I've somehow completely missed the five million real-time strategy games already released, despite the fact they've been plastered all for the last year or two.
- I don't ask much from life. I'm impressed by just about anything really. I even had lots of fun with Microsoft Excel, despite the poor graphics and lack of sound support.
If you answered 'true' to any of these statements, you'll get along just fine with Seven Kingdoms. In which case you'll be wanting to know a bit more about it, I suppose.
As the game's title implies, there are seven kingdoms in the game. Which means there's also seven kings - and you're one of them. Your city is home to many loyal peasants who can be trained to do your bidding in different ways. Train miners, send them into mines and you'll get coal, clay and iron. Train scientists and they'll research new weapons. Constructors make new buildings. Make a fort and your soldiers will be trained by a general or a king. Construct a market, buy a camel and trade with friendly kingdoms to make more cash. Make more forts, train more soldiers, and send them all off to beat the crap out of everything that gets in their way. Is this all beginning to sound a bit familiar? Quelle surprise.
To be fair, Seven Kingdoms isn't the worst example of the genre you'll ever come across, but it's a long way behind the leaders (Total Annihilation, WarCraft 2, Red Alert etc). Maybe I'll have more luck with Human Onslaught.
Download Seven Kingdoms
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
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2019-01-10 Seven Kingdoms game added.