The reason why I love the Assassins Creed franchise so much is because it’s based on history, though admittedly very loosely, it’s not the boring sides of history you had to sit through in school. These digital history lectures that Ubisoft offered filled my screen with tales of bloody murder, debauchery, conspiracy and bad ass assailants that were otherwise needless figures from history. The Assassins Creed saga has made me feel a lot more educated and open to other projects that take their inspiration from real life events, so hence why I was shaking with excitement to explore the drama behind the infamous “Hundred Years War”, presented by the OTT strategists at Koei. It’s a studio that only makes games these days about epic battles between epic armies, so for them to leave a future ‘Warriors’ title and go back to an old project for this generation of gaming they must have had a good reason to surely? Surely?? Send me a postcard when you’ve found it as I’m getting out of France while I still can.
Bladestorm: Nightmare is a revamped-sequel if you will of ‘Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War’, a real time tactical strategy title which originally released on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2007. Being greeted with fairly decent appraisal first time round, Bladestorm placed you, an unknown mercenary, who must pick sides on who to aid in the current course of battle between the English and the French in the 14th Century. Using a local Tavern as your base of operation, you must choose which force to represent in battle to not only make you a strong leader, but to make you a very rich one, I mean Mercenaries have gotta live haven’t they. As a sell sword you command a unit of your choosing to overthrow settlements, cut the enemy down to size and defend your own land to aid your side to victory. What Bladestorm Nightmare does is include a second playable campaign of the same name which derives more from fantasy books rather than history ones. In the all new original ‘Nightmare’ storyline, you once again control a mysterious unknown mercenary who is confronted by Joan of Arc, who since the last battle has now risen from the ground to control armies of the undead to throw the world as we know it into utter turmoil. Playing almost identically to the original game, Nightmare sees the English and French unite to defeat the undead and trade in their trusty men and horses in for all new goblins, wizards and dragons. Though as impressive as the game initially sounded I was eager to command a battlefield and play a game that focussed on tactics rather than sheer luck; however I was wounded to find that it wasn’t so.
Even after logging a fairly substantial amount of hours in both campaigns, I’m still staring at the screen unsure of exactly how I play this game, not because it’s difficult but because it’s quite the opposite. After a number of pretty vague instructions at the start of the game, Bladestorm does well in telling you what buttons to press and what each of them do, but it lacks any direction then in how to play the game “properly”, as I was promised an epic tactical battle, and I’ve yet to find it. When you unlock each unit to control whether it be horses, bows or spears, you are encouraged to level each one up and challenge your enemy’s disadvantages to make for a more strategic, easier battle, however I’ve found the game to be so easy that I have no need for different warriors when I’ve got a band of my own brothers who slay everything in their path regardless of compatibility. If you disregard the need for level grinding and you’re stubborn enough to not experiment in battle, it can make for a very unchallenging play through. Each contract has a guideline on how long it should take to complete, and I found more often than not that jobs which had an indefinite timeframe were completed within 10 minutes. These contracts also have very brief instructions on what to do, and I found that I was completing most of these missions by accident, as I just so happened to invade the village that I was apparently asked to. When you’re selecting a place to start you are literally dumped in the middle of the countryside with a very rough idea of where you’re heading to, so sometimes you could find yourself ruling every settlement in the land before heading to the correct one to progress the story, or you could do the exact opposite and be back at the Tavern before the bar tender can wish you safe travels. Bladestorm also suffers from poor A.I which not only makes your opponents weak on the battlefield, but unfortunately it makes the game even easier. It’s this awful mindless A.I that gives you a massive advantage on the battlefield and even more so back at HQ when you receive far too much XP and cash from your battles. Never before as too much XP been an issue for me, but when a game is far too easy to begin with and giving you the chance to upgrade yourself even more off the battlefield again can make both campaigns very boring very quickly.
Even when I had no idea what I was supposed to do, I enjoyed commanding a crew of thugs and pillaging every village I came through like a tornado, the combat is fast paced, exciting and rather rewarding. During the campaign I was able to link up with another battalion and take control of an army, which made grander escapades more epic and satisfying when the poor opposition were begging for their mummies. With a large array of special commands and attacks at your disposal, at times the screen could be filled with flying bodies, cool visual effects and deafening cries that keep the players attention span going for just a little longer. With 2 separate campaigns on the go, there is a lot of content to get behind in Bladestorm: Nightmare that’ll keep you occupied for quite some time. After you’ve completed your campaigns you even have the chance to revisit them and finish them with a higher rating, often rewarding you with more impressive loot that’ll give you an advantage on the field if you ever decide to do battle online. Teaming up locally or over the internet, Bladestorm’s co-op facilities are pretty extensive and can provide many additional hours of combat for you and a friend. As well as tackling campaign missions in unison, players can take part in action packed competitive game modes that will see players race to take down base units or deliver the final blow to a particular boss to gain points. Sending your troops on skirmishes overnight will reward you with rare treasures and other units to use at your free will; these units will be other players you’ve met online that have fallen before you.
Despite supposedly being a remastered game for the next generation, Bladestorm: Nightmare doesn’t seem to have been visually upgraded that much. On the battlefield the graphics are pretty good, the camera is a fair distance away from any battalions’ facial features so what you can’t see can’t be critiqued right. Though the landscapes on both campaigns are bland and full of far too many open spaces, settlements and fortresses do look fairly decent and some rides across the French plains can be quite lovely. Heading back into the Tavern, the location you’ll unfortunately spend a great deal of time in, looks like something that has been retrieved from an alpha port of Skyrim. The character models look like they’ve just been copied and pasted from the original game and it really does look bizarre against the backdrop of an apparent Playstation 4 game. Similar to the naff visuals, Bladestorm is also the home of the worst voice actors perhaps in the history of gaming, the French/Russian/Geordie Bar Tender who will talk to you … a lot, and the mercenary you control who will speak every time you launch an attack, which too will happen … a lot. After a battle of semi epic proportions, it’s difficult to relax and compose yourself for the next one when every soldier you speak to in the Tavern looks and sounds terrible.
Bladestorm: Nightmare isn’t one of the best games I’ve played this year and is without a doubt the most disappointing remaster/rerelease to date. I was promised a strategic action game and it didn’t deliver, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would and it’s a ‘remaster’ that hasn’t shown an awful lot of development since it first landed. Sure it plays a lot faster than its predecessor, but the game just hasn’t aged well even with all that HD anti wrinkle cream that’s been applied to it. The huge amount of content that’s available for the player is great however, so for those that did enjoy the original game, the new campaign and interesting multiplayer capabilities will provide countless more hours for you to dive into. Sadly I’ve found that Bladestorm: Nightmare is a game that only fans of the franchise will admire, it makes a spectacular real life war campaign relatively boring and the lack of any ‘real’ strategy, tactics and direction that I expected to find were absent. As a novice in tactical strategic action games, I found Bladestorm: Nightmare to be a confusing, unchallenging and dull experience that has since made me weary of other titles from the same genre and studio.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.