It doesn’t matter how many of these kinds of games I play or how many hours I put into each of them, I still suck balls and drive my empire to the ground. I’m referring to these ‘Construction and Management’ Sims I’ve become accustomed to in recent months, as well as the ones I had no idea how to play about 15 years ago that are still lost on me. A game that requires actual strategy, logical thinking or patience is an automatic turnoff because their all prerequisites that I sadly lack, but if there’s an opportunity to be a ruler, a commander or a mindless goon with an army at his disposal then I’ll give anything a go. On this occasion I’ll don a pitiful homemade crown, a grubby ragged beard and a barrel of mead as I’ve got a continent or 2 to dominate!
Grand Ages: Medieval is the latest grand strategy title by the rulers of said genre Kalypso and Gaming Minds, releasing on PC, Steam and PS4. Exchanging swords and shields for wagons and fruit, Grand Ages: Medieval relies on trade and friendships between towns to conquer your land and go pillage everyone else’s. As well as a stacked free play mode, the game also features a huge campaign mode which sees you control the son of the emperor’s bodyguard, a simple town boy with huge potential and heartache as he takes control of his father’s land following his tragic death protecting the city. With complete control of the town, the townspeople and all of their cash, you must build your homeland to withstand sieges whilst building new homes and invading neighbouring ones. Trading is your most effective weapon and knowing what to harvest, construct and sell will lead you to recruiting soldiers, taking down rival towns and claiming the crown. Neighbouring towns can be claimed through gold, fear or even just by asking really nicely, so your relationships with your fellow mayors and how you spend your income are valuable to succeeding as a strong, reliable leader. The objectives may be simple to understand but take your eyes of the needs of your towns and your gold and you’ll leave yourself open for invasion, so are you ready to take control of Europe and beyond? I thought I was but jeez was I wrong, this is not a game for novices.
Grand Ages: Medieval requires your full attention and an awful lot of foreshadowing, setting up towns with specific commodities you know or assume will come in handy later in your play-through, which is no doubt common sense for those familiar with this genre but not for a noob like me. The campaign itself is nothing special nor worthy of telling your friends about, but its objectives will put you through your paces and the rewards make it worthy of playing. The game’s tutorial goes over the basic controls and goals of the game however it doesn’t explain why your money will continue to deplete and how to really trade effectively which caused me to bugger up my campaign a few too many times; when you run out of money there is literally nothing you can do and the game will just continue to run despite there being no point whatsoever. This is a factor that was hard to ignore as a new player coming into this game, many of my questions were unanswered and I wasn’t given any hints on how to save my towns from bankruptcy until it was too late. Seasoned players familiar with this set up however won’t face the same issues as I did because clearly what comes naturally to them is all Greek to me. Once you overcome the odds and begin to build up your empire you’ll discover just how big the world map is and really how much work you’ve got cut out before you actually accomplish anything. Grand Ages: Medieval may appear simplistic and relatively bare, but what it lacks in visuals and presentation is more than made up for by its intricate trading system, ruthless AI and gargantuan map which even for the most dedicated player will keep them occupied for weeks, maybe even months rather than for a day or 2. It’s a difficult and genuinely challenging campaign that will see you rise through the ranks and make a name for yourself, a task that requires a lot of hard work and commitment, so I can safely say you will eventually feel rewarded for your efforts as you slowly but surely progress through the story. As well as the hugely immersive campaign mode, Grand Ages: Medieval also features a competitive multiplayer and a free roam mode which will see you complete the same objectives as the campaign without being prompted to and against more brutal advisories. Both modes are advisable once the campaign has been completed or at least tackled for a long period of time otherwise you’ll soon find yourself outnumbered and out of pocket. Scenarios are also available to players for an additional fee which from what I can gather require you to complete objectives under a particular stipulation or during an infamous event, but without experiencing them I can’t go into further detail. It may just be repackaged versions of the same game, but Grand Ages: Medieval certainly has a lot to keep avid fans busy and newcomers terrified.
In short, Grand Ages: Medieval is a fairly easier game to get your head around but boy is it difficult to master. Newcomers to the game and genre will find it challenging and confusing from the start whilst fans and strategic geniuses will find it challenging, fun and hugely rewarding with its mighty impressive map size and the various routes for success. There may not be a huge difference between the multiple game modes available on disc but each of them are guaranteed to play out differently and no playthrough will be the same. Though it doesn’t take anything away from the gameplay and overall playing experience, the visuals are sadly a little lacklustre on the PS4 which is rather disappointing and my only major issue with the product. I now announce my retirement from this type of game as I sadly don’t have the mindset, intuition or tactical skills to be a strong leader and someone that is depended on by weaker and less civilised people, which unfortunately doesn’t bode well for the baby I hope to make in the coming months.
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.