In 2007, 1C: Ino-co studios released Fantasy Wars, a turn-based strategy placed in a world populated by elves, orcs and the like who, understandably, did not get along. Despite the simple premise and the genre approached (turn-based strategies haven’t been in fashion for quite some time), its success provided enough reasons to spawn a sequel.
Don’t mess with the elves
But even if the name isn’t the same, Elven Legacy is not all that different from its predecessor, and the storyline has a very similar flavor. Just as the title suggests, this time we’ll don the ecological boots of the Elves in order to hunt down a wizard that got away with a very important secret. This hunt will take us through the lands of humans and orcs that won’t be too happy about our little adventure. The storyline was a strong-point in the previous title, so the producers attempted to offer the same depth and twist to the plot. As such, the characters are talkative and emotional, and the cut-scenes produced with the in-game engine are quite atmospheric.
However, barring the total lack of originality of the screenplay (am I the only one who is tired of orcs vs. elves?), the story seems a bit too dense for its own good at times, and the cut-scenes tend to become tiresome, especially since the game difficulty will have you retry some missions several times in order to get it right. Not to mention that it’s a bit hard to take seriously such a theme, regardless of the cut scene quality.
The actual gameplay also differs very little compared to its predecessor. Or, if you didn’t have the curiosity to try Fantasy Wars, you can relate back to the old Fantasy General to see what I mean. Initially, I was even tempted to tax the producers for this, but then I realized there is no crime in copying WELL a successful title, if you consider that the General series is still being played today.
The scenarios we have at our disposal have set objectives, such as conquering a certain citadel or defeating a certain evil character, but we may also get secondary objectives. These are not mandatory, but it can be of great help to find a dragon in a cave or a pile of extra cash hidden in a swamp, so it’s best to search the entire map for such goodies.
In order to show explain to our enemies the error of their ways, we have a vast number of units at our disposal, this being one of the game’s strong points. We have archers, infantry, cavalry, mages, rogues and, of course, wizards and heroes. The gold needed to recruit these units can be obtained by accomplishing main and secondary objectives, as well as sometimes defeating one big, ugly enemy.
Each unit has its own values for attack strength, defense, movement points as well as special abilities. Furthermore, each one can advance in level if they performed well in combat, thus gaining access to further enhancements. Each level-up offers you a choice from three abilities, which vary from a range upgrade for archers to a powerful charge for cavalry. However, you can only raise a normal unit to level five, as only heroes can level up to ten, which makes them more powerful and flexible.
These abilities, along with their description greatly contribute to the overall feeling and army management, as you’ll literally cry if you lose your five star archers during combat. Especially since in the campaign mode, these veteran units will accompany you in each scenario.
Heroes are usually mission-specific, being somewhat better combat units but more fragile and the preferred targets of the enemy. This is because usually the victory condition revolves around keeping your heroes alive. They do make for great front line or support units, but should not be left alone to battle the enemy.
The actual combat has seen few changes from the General series and a more complex rock-paper-scissors system will severely tax you for leaving your units scattered or unattended on the battlefield. Infantry performs well against other melee fighters; cavalry is well suited to battle archers, while the archers themselves are used to bring down flying units. Armored eagles can easily take out bombing balloons, and mages are useful overall with their wide array of spells and huge range.