The promises of Grand Ages: Medieval are those that can easily attract attention: simulating the Middle Ages, giving greater prominence to the economic side rather than the military one. In conclusion, war is not won only with armies, but also with the ability to dominate the market by hitting opponents where it hurts the most: in the production of goods.
Because if a raid brakes a city in the short distance, inflation dooms it to a slow asphyxiation that will have repercussions for decades to come. In short, on paper we are faced with a winning and truly original title. Initially Grand Ages: Medieval shows no major problems. The single player campaign begins with an introductory movie that contextualizes the gameplay. We are the lords of Sofia and we must try to conquer Europe for Constantinople and for our personal glory. After the tutorial, quite clear even if incomplete, we find ourselves grappling with the first tasks to be carried out: exploring the map, building buildings, directing production and creating the first trade route. Initially everything seems to work very well. Lookouts run the length and breadth of Eastern Europe revealing cities close to ours and some lost treasures. Arriving near a city allows you to open a diplomatic channel with the local administration, to negotiate the right of way, the concession of a trade route, declare war and so on. After a couple of hours of play it is impossible not to notice a fact that will also be confirmed in the rest of the test: the map of Grand Ages: Medieval is terribly empty. In fact, it is not clear why such a large map was made to put practically nothing in it. There is a handful of cities, which if you know a little about geography you will also be able to find without too much effort, there are roads, there are points to explore to collect resources or participate in some mini event and ... that's it. In short, that the first positive impressions are destined to be denied?
Having to summarize the latest effort by Gaming Minds Studios we could define it as a concentrate of excellent ideas poorly implemented or half-implemented. But let's go back to the main concept of the title: conquering Europe through economic domination. How to do?
Let's say that this is the most complex aspect of the game and also the one to which the most time should be devoted, for good and bad reasons. Now, imagine having a series of neighboring cities and wanting to subjugate them, avoiding having to build huge armies to crush their defenses. How about ruining their market by competing with them on the production of certain goods in order to depress their economy? Fascinating, right? The problem is that the idea is there, but the execution is on the run. It is not just a question of the complexity of the interface, which can also be overlooked since the game is obviously aimed at a savvy and lover audience of the genre. Grand Ages: Medieval works hard to do badly what is essential for a strategic player: to give information to the player. In some situations it is really difficult to understand what is going and what is wrong. Not that the game should tell us what to do, but at least provide clear economic indicators yes, especially those related to trade, which is the cornerstone of the gameplay. The drama is most evident in times of recession, which is when our economy begins to lose ground. It is true that there are spending chapters that tell us where we are spending more than we should, but only macro-categories are shown that make it a matter of intuition to decide how to intervene to save the situation. In truth, with experience you learn to understand what goes and what doesn't, but at that point the interest aroused by the originality of the mechanics has largely gone to men of easy virtue, also because in the meantime the repetitiveness factor has taken over.
Our Grand Ages: Medieval review leaves little hope for strategy buffs
Small steps towards the abyss
It is a pity that Grand Ages is so ambivalent in its implementation, because it has aspects that work well: for example, the management of trade routes, which must be modified from time to time to attack the economy of this or that city, or to defend against runaway inflation.
Of course, the limit of only one merchant per city is difficult to understand, but it takes little to get used to. Too bad, however, that the rest is of a disarming mediocrity. Let's take the combat system. Gaming Minds Studios has gone to great lengths to limit the need for the military ... and perhaps it would have been better to eliminate it en bloc, given what is left. We are not crazy, but the military side of Grand Ages is really lacking. The fights are the most static that can exist and often take place in an absurd way. Just assemble an army of more than one army and go and challenge another army. Apparently the troops are well deployed and could give rise to majestic battles, but in reality you only get sad little dynamic animations. Also calculate that armies tend to break up with great speed in the event of an economic crisis and you will understand how instead of enriching the game, the military side tends to penalize it, also because the troops to be produced are few and uninteresting.
PC System Requirements
- Intel Core i7-4770 processor
- 16 GB of RAM
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card
- Windows 10 Pro operating system
- Operating system: Windows Vista
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8000 series or higher
- Video Card: DirectX 10 compatible with 1GB RAM, Geforce GTS450 or equivalent
- DirectX: 11
- 2 GB of RAM
- 5 GB of disk space
- Operating system: Windows 7 / 8 / 10
- Processor: Intel i5 3 GHz or equivalent / higher
- Video Card: DirectX 11 compatible with 2GB RAM, GTX 650ti or equivalent / better
- 4 GB of RAM
A similar argument, even if softened, can be said for the infrastructural side. No, we weren't expecting a city builder, but here the customization and management options of the conurbations is zero.
Everything is preset and to be honest there are not even many buildings to be built: barracks, churches, convents, some economic buildings and little else. The tavern offers a few more options, since it allows you to build new wagons for merchants, to hire labor to build or renovate roads, essential for trade, to hire settlers and more. In general, these are aspects that work, it is a pity that they are not minimally investigated and that each unit has very few functions. The exact same speech is feasible for diplomacy, based on a simple selection of offers and requests, weighed on the relations between the factions. It works, there is little to say, but it offers very few options, not approaching the complexity of any strategy of Paradox or Matrix Games, but not even of one of the Civilizations. Many of the limitations of Grand Ages: Medieval are likely to have been thought of in reference to multiplayer: streamlining the game mechanics can be used to make online games less burdensome. It's just a pity that there are currently very few players to challenge. In short, setting up the games online can also be fine, but if there is no one online to be penalized, it is those who want or cannot help but play them alone.
CommentTested version PC Windows, PlayStation 4 Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store Price 36,99 € / 49,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
Grand Ages: Medieval tries to be original, in part it succeeds, but it sacrifices too many aspects to be convincing. Usually the strategists offer many hours of play, but here the monotony assaults after a few games, due to the lack of depth of many game mechanics. Too bad, because it could have been a valid and alternative title to the sacred monsters of the genre. So it is just a concentrate of mediocrity.
- Some mechanics are original
- The idea of economy-based warfare is a good one
- Too much superficiality
- Lacking in the information provided to the player
- The military side was best eliminated altogether