Besieger

Review

posted 7/7/2004 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
When it comes to playing RTS games, I’m a “turtle”. I like to take my time, building up behind massive defenses until finally I’m able to field an army and chew up my enemies slowly and cautiously. What this really means is I can hold my own against most AI opponents, but once put up against any aggressive human, I generally suffer bitter and humiliating defeat. So when an RTS comes along that promises to cater to my defensive nature, I’m a happy boy. And how can a game called “Besieger” not be laden with all sorts of fortification-y goodness, an RTS turtle’s dream? Alas, this is not the case. Besieger does boast a relatively easy-to-manage system for quickly building up walls and towers, and it also brings to bear some nice anti-wall units. But the actual play of the game, hindered by poor AI, clunky camera control, and bland units leaves Besieger firmly mired in RTS mediocrity.

The story is all too familiar. Konin, king of the Cimmerian people, sets of on a quest to find the Sword of Krom…no, not that Konin. Anyway, once the king is away, his sister Mara (who has apparently embraced the Dark Arts) takes over the kingdom and begins a campaign of terror. Nearby Vikings end up on the business end of some of this Evil, and they and the ousted Konin set out to put an end to the upstart Queen. The single-player campaign follows the exploits of both the Viking people and Konin’s Cimmerians as they try to oust Mara, both through traditional “build and conquer” missions and through some more dungeon-hack levels. Once the single-player campaign is done, skirmishes, either against the computer or other human opponents, are very run-of-the-mill fare, dropping some combination of Vikings and Cimmerians onto the field and letting them build up and destroy each other.

The units themselves are about as generic as can be, with very little to differentiate between the Viking and Cimmerian armies. Vikings get their melee guys (Berserkers and spearmen), and their ranged guys (spear throwers). Cimmerians get melee and ranged units as well, but some of them ride horses. Riding horses might give a bit of a speed advantage, but due to the fact that all units need constant babysitting to move around the map, I didn’t notice much of a difference between mounted and foot soldiers. Both sides also get a few siege units, handy for taking care of those pesky walls, and each side gets a few flying units as well. Units are able to gain experience and increased power levels as they survive fights, but I wasn’t able to see much of an advantage in these upgrades in the regular units (besides the instant full-health given upon leveling up). The single player campaign introduces some unique Hero units, which do add a little flavor to the mix. Each unit has a special ability it confers to nearby units, like increased damage or increased health regeneration rate. Unlike the regular units, as the Heroes gain more and more levels, they become truly frightening. Toward the end of the campaign, the Heroes that managed to survive become one-man armies, able to dish out incredible amounts of damage. These units almost seem a little unbalancing, but it is important to keep them safe (and the poor AI and clunky control makes this difficult at times).
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