Like other reviewers here, I too was a bit tentative at purchasing this product. I can only recall seeing 1 advertisement for it on TV and generally there was not much marketing out there for it.
I have always been a fan of age of empires and history in general so this just seemed to make sense for me.
Please note this review is based on Single Player only I have not yet played Multi Player on XBL:
The game itself is set during the 100 Years War.
My first impression was a good one, there are 2 campaigns on offer one as the English, the other French. Naturally I automatically selected the English for my first playthrough Once you select the game you wish to play there is a mandatory tutorial first before you are pitched into the full campaign. I could see why immediately.
- The controls; to put it politely are fiddly at best even though there are only 5 buttons/sticks used during the levels and I found it hard and timely to navigate across the maps.
-Graphics; mainly due to this not being developed by a gaming powerhouse (Slitherine)the graphics during gameplay aren't ground-breaking due to the scale required. I think console restrictions might have quite a lot to do with it and the fact that there is so much going on at any one time. This is not such a problem when zoomed out to get the best view of the battlefield (which it the view most used) but when you are close in like in the 'army camp' menu people practically have half their face missing. But as previously mentioned 90% of the time you will be zoomed out during gameplay so from that angle the graphics look quite good.
- Storyline; Generally speaking the game re-creates accurate historical events and battles throughout the main campaign. There are opportunities between main levels to raid villages and towns to gain gold for recruiting more men and experience.
- General gameplay; as mentioned before the control aspects are quite annoying which can sometimes take away from the experience. However the battles themselves are great. Ordering a thousand troops forwards is great to watch, this is mainly a tactical game and not one that you can send units in willy nilly because that won't work. You need to use logic i.e spearmen to take out cavalry, archers to decimate tight infantry ranks etc. This is what makes the game so engaging. The difficulty of the battles depend on the levels and numbers of your troops. You might find that you will end to raid a village before taking on armies if you don't have enough troops. you can upgrade and modify your army between and before battles training them in new techniques and buying new armour and weapons. Each decision in a way can affect the game.
Overall this game is a good buy for the price and with 2 campaign options and over 16 battles to fight in each campaign mode, this will keep you going for hours. Great if you want to have a break from FPS or RPG's or are a fan of the Total War Series.