Crown of Glory25 Aug 2005 0
Say the words Matrix Games and the mind immediately conjures up visions of products where historical accuracy and attention to detail are often of paramount importance. The company?s latest release, Crown of Glory: Europe in the Age of Napoleon, is such an example and offers a substantially different approach to strategy than similar but more light-hearted fare such as Cossacks II or Imperial Glory. Here the emphasis is on substance vice glitz, and in this venue Matrix has a solid winner on its hands.
Recall one of the most remarkable things about Napoleon was his ability to run both the army and his country even while on campaign hundreds of miles away. It was this ability to manage vastly different areas of expertise in detail that at least partially defined his genius. In Crown of Glory gamers are offered an invitation to do likewise, not simply from a military perspective, but from economic and diplomatic ones as well. This is a game of national strategy, folks, and winning as the Emperor of France or any opposing monarch is a victory players will savor, because they will have earned it. And even defeat is a remarkable, nail biting ride that will certainly increase most gamers' appreciation of just how good Bonaparte really was.
Installation and Documentation
My copy of the game, which retails for $ 39.99 US, was the downloadable version and there were absolutely no issues with installation. In fact, the game seemed pretty rock solid all the way around minus a Plato MFC fault that popped up every time I tried to exit the game. However, the installation of Patch 1.1 solved this issue and it has yet to return.
Documentation comes in the form of two Adobe PDF files. One of these is an 18 page tutorial that will walk the budding Napoleon through the basics of completing a typical turn, noting what military, diplomatic, economic or developmental options he might need to consider. This is only a small sample of what can be manipulated by the player, however, and it is well worth the time to at least skim through the 90 page game manual that comprises the other Adobe PDF file. I normally like to simply take a spin through the tutorial and then learn the hard way when cranking up a PC game, but here I definitely recommend a solid look at the actual manual. This is serious strategy gaming so the learning curve could be harsh and steep without some guidance beforehand.
In particular one of the biggest decisions a player will have to make is what part of empire management he will turn over to the game?s AI and what part he will retain for himself. If a gamer wants to start shifting around labor priorities between wood and textiles, determine whether to develop courts or walls, or decide between building a division of infantry or light cavalry, all within the single province of Soissons (and every other individual province he owns), month after month, he may do so. Gamers can even get a hearty ?Vive l? Empereur!? from me if they actually pull this off as I?ll definitely consider them Bonaparte material. The rest of us, on the other hand, will have to delegate and it?s awful nice to know exactly what Monsieur AI de Economics Ministry is fiddling around with on the gamer?s behalf.
The game manual itself is nicely laid out with a sidebar base index and color illustrations of specific symbols or screenshots keyed to each appropriate section of the text. In PDF it defaults to a double page layout so some gamers may want to change the view settings or simply print the document as I did. In order, the sections covered are Installation, Basics, Game Concepts, Combat Basics, Quick Combat, Detailed Combat, Political Concepts, Economic Concepts (gamers must read this one), Advisor Screens and Game Control Buttons. Also included is an Appendix covering mouse control and keyboard shortcuts, as well as a Strategy Guide and a Scenario Guide. This last section gives an overview of the entire period as well as background particulars about each included scenario. It's here gamers will find out that the Standard scenario is actually the 1805 Austerlitz campaign while the Balanced scenario reflects a bit of alternate history around the year 1820. I was especially glad to see that two campaigns (1792 and 1796) from the exceptionally important but frequently avoided French Revolution were included, as well as the obligatory 1815 Waterloo campaign. However, I would also have liked to indulge at other points within the Napoleonic epic, to include 1809, 1812 and 1813.
The primary gaming screen presents a map of Europe divided into nations, provinces, and protectorates. At the bottom of this screen is a panel, decorated in an antique wood grain motif, which will provide immediate and important information on whatever province or military symbol the mouse cursor has passed over or clicked on (gamers may also right click to bring up a small information box). For example, if a gamer?s interest lies in the province of Carpathia at the moment, he?ll see such things as the status of commodities produced in the province, forage values, and the level at which certain technologies or industries have been developed. Convenient buttons within the same panel allow access to additional popup screens such as province management or diplomatic activities and similar. A narrow bar at the very bottom keeps track of economic commodities overall while a small map to the right presents Europe in total along with a box to indicate exactly where the screen is positioned.