Last week, I wrote up the preview of the Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes beta. For those wanting an in depth look at the new systems, check out the preview. Now that I’ve happened to spend a few too many hours with the final build, we can finally attach a review score to this hybrid of Civilization and Final Fantasy Tactics and see what went right and what went wrong. Let’s find out how legendary this expansion really is.
Reviewing Legendary Heroes is a daunting task. This game is a grind; so much so that our empire building expert Yamilia had to bow out of the dual review. I kid you not that you can spend upwards of 20 hours and more on the main scenario. That might not seem like much to most of you, until you realize that it essentially is just one massive skirmish with a bit of added focus on team building. That’s like playing one stage of Warcraft 3 for 20 hours. It can feel like there is no end in sight, and that is what Fallen Enchantress does so amazingly well. It makes you wonder what time it is as you keep building and pushing forward.
For many of you with family, friends and jobs, this might seem like an odd thing to praise. Legendary Heroes essentially sucks hours of your life away. It does so buy bringing together so many different strategy elements in to one cohesive game. It is actually shocking that this works as well as it does. You have your simulation style troop building and city management combined with RPG mainstays of unit leveling structures and inventory management. When you begin to have armies of over 40 troops moving around and preparing to attack or defend your cities, it really starts to really slow the game down while it forces you to focus on controlling the entire space around you.
That is where the game excels. It properly pushes you to battle your way up from nothing and conquer your way up while figuring out the best way to do so. There are so many different strategies that each time I play the game I feel like I’ve learned a better more efficient way to burn through it. For a world that you build, the game feels like it actually grows with you as you learn strategies via the military, magic, diplomacy and cultivation systems. These new systems that they have expanded out really add a real bit of depth to the product.
I have to be honest in saying that this isn’t the best of both worlds merged into one game. Civilization is a better sim and many “Tactics” games have better systems. The automated unit placements on maps can be infuriatingly unbalanced for some troops at times. You can actually skip battles at the press of a button to both speed the game along and move ahead, but there will come a point where you will find that you are obviously better than the auto battle AI. Sometimes it wouldn’t be so bad (oh only my militia suffered 38 damage). Other times it would be downright infuriating (how did my entire army get wiped out by one guy?).
It effectively forces you to lengthen the time spent playing the game by fighting battles where you obviously overpower opponents, just to make sure you can keep pushing forward to finish the battle. This is an unfortunate imbalance because of the way the game is structured.
Legendary Heroes starts you off by plucking you down in to the middle of nowhere where you have to actually wander out in to the elements and build your first town. You do so by harvesting resources, protecting the village from monsters and expanding your civilization by branching out. Once you have built the beginnings of an empire, you start to encroach upon other territories and AI controlled cities. This is when you need to use your diplomacy to strike deals with them or crush them out right. So effectively the game is set up in to 3 segments. The game should be taking the control out of your hands tactically as you grow to become a conqueror.
In the end you should only be controlling battles where you take on quests that are “deadly” or when you conquer enemy cities. I shouldn’t have to control the battle when my army stat rating is 999/999 (aka “Epic”) and my opponent is 230/230 (aka “medium). When I have a party that is able to destroy enemies unscathed in 9/10 battles, it seems odd that when I let the AI control the battles, I start losing archers and militia randomly.
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes has so many strategy elements going on that it seems ridiculous at times. Its the only city building game I’ve felt this in control of and I love that. It does have problems with balance and its not a game that I would recommend to those people that actually like spending their time with other human beings. This has turned out to be my answer to the age old question of “If you were stuck on a deserted island with only one game, what would you bring?”
The fact that I willingly poured as many hours as I did should be a testament. The systems that are here could have been expanded upon more. So instead of the definitive Fallen Enchantress update, we’re looking at the proper framework that should be applied. This game should serve as the standard of what a tactical strategy sim should be and I hope that the modding community picks this up and runs with it as the many layers of strategy really overwhelm you.
The user interface is cluttered for those of us gaming on touch pads, the hero system just isn’t as expansive as it could be and despite warranting a novel, the game has little real story. These are middling issues that really detract from the fact that you are playing a simulation strategy RPG that works fascinatingly well. If you were put off by some of the issues of the original Fallen Enchantress, it should be worth at least checking out this expansion.
Final Breakdown: Good
[+You Can Recruit Dragons] [+Hours of Gameplay] [+Replayable] [+Interesting System] [+Plenty of Quests] [-Weak Story] [-UI Gets Overwhelmed Late in Game]