Games that really engage, like Legion Arena, are rare for me these days. I have played so many games that most are easy to master and I can blow through them quickly. Legion Arena, on the other hand, is a game I held back on reviewing because of the fact I wanted an excuse to play it some more.
This game has many qualities I look for in a game. It is easy to begin, to get into, and it holds your attention well. The fact the game is quite stunning to behold rather helps as well.
Legion Arena is a RTS game where you play the commander, with groupings of fighting men, as they fight their way across the Roman Empire for the glory of Rome. You get to suppress rebellions by those who might not exactly like being under the Roman yoke and relight battles from Rome’s history.
The battles in Gaul are most enjoyable. As you might expect, the more battle-hardened your men get, the better they fight and listen to your orders. After you have finished crushing Rome’s enemies, including internal ones, then you are able to play the Celts and wreak holy havoc on the Romans and others.
You are able to equip your men with better and better armour (though not game-killing unreasonable stuff) while, at the same time, training them for their eventual battle encounters. For instance, I would strongly advise you make sure at least one of your units can handle the sight of armour clad elephants coming at you.
Watching your best squad of men run away from these brutes does nothing for the morale of your army, or you as the player.
The game does, however, have two settings — arcade and normal.
Graphically, the game is quite impressive — whether it be the cut-scenes, which, incidentally, reflect how you have placed your men including their formations, showing you a little about the field of battle and its history, or the in-game action itself.
It runs quite nicely on my MacBook 1.83 MHz Duo-Core with 512 MB RAM, though I suspect it will be even better once I tweak the machine to 2 GB of RAM. As with many such things, it rather helps to have as much RAM as possible, especially when playing online.
Alas, you may only play with those on Macs either via LAN or over the Internet. But seeing as this is a Mac user's type of game and Freeverse has a loyal following, I suspect finding players will not be a problem.
Another interesting feature of the game is the ability to move your point of reference from right in the middle of the battle (if you are a gore-hound) to spinning 'round the battlefield to look at things from all angles. This adds another level of play that gives it that extra something.
Units do not suffer from idiocy as much as they can in some similar games of this type. The AI is pretty good at determining enemy proximity and moving on to them if they are in attack mode, unless you order them somewhere else.
As this is a rather good engine, one does hope Freeverse might take on other famous armies of ancient history. I would love to play the Vikings, cutting a swath across lands both near and far. Or how about the Normans crushing Saxons as they put their mark down on the larger of the British Isles?
Freeverse has a good forum on its site, which provides tips and hints for those stuck in this game. There are a few bugs that pop up now and again, but nothing game-killing, merely normal moments of frustration.
This is a quality release from a quality game company. It is good to see Freeverse expanding their horizons and producing an excellent, if simple, historical battle game. Let’s hope this is the first of many.
While the Mac version of Legion Arena is not rated by the ESRB, Freeverse adds "Mature Content. Contains historically accurate violence and clothing (and sometimes lack thereof)." The PC release is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Nudity, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC.Powered by Sidelines