Legion Arena Beta Impressions

By Scott Parrino 29 Aug 2005 0


In the wake of the classics masterpiece, Rome: Total War, it is surely a daunting task to follow in those massive footsteps. However, Slitherine is doing just that with their historical strategy title, Legion Arena. Legion Arena is set during the rise of the Roman Republic: Rome is a playable faction, as are the Celts and the Carthaginians. Visually appealing and with several added layers of both tactical and role playing complexity, Slitherine?s plunge into classical history is proving to be sufficiently complicated while still preserving the digital fun that is ordering Roman cavalry headlong into the rear of an enemy position.

The key to understanding Legion Arena is its planning phase: unlike other mainstream strategy titles, this game allows players to plan out their moves in advance. This planning phase allows players to devise simple or increasingly complex battle plans for victory. Once those plans are in place, the fight takes place in real-time over large, 3D battlefields. The sight is comparable to the Total War series and other games in the genre, but commanding troops during these hectic battles is something altogether different. While a pause function is available, getting new orders to the troops in battle is particularly challenging. So if a player should wish to change orders mid-fight, ferrying those orders down to their troops could mean delays, or worse.

Complementing Legion Arena?s tactical prowess on the battlefield is an upgrade and customization screen known as ?base camp? which allows the player to do scores of various alterations, improvements and customizations to their units. As units become increasingly blood-thirsty and battle-hardened, a player is able to purchase better boots/armor, weapons, and uniforms. Changing the color or style of a uniform is not a purely cosmetic practice in Legion Arena: any sort of fashion bit that distinguishes one unit from the dregs of the main army significantly increases morale, discipline, and pride in that particular unit.

When not walking the ancient fashion runway and strutting their uniforms, soldiers on the battlefield are governed not only by the player, but also an excellent system of checks and balances. These checks and balances help to slow down the pace of the game, assuring that Legion Arena cannot be manhandled by RTS clickmeisters. As was explained earlier, Legion Arena challenges players to make smart battle plans and without the need for dramatic changes during a battle. However, if they decide a change is necessary, players must wait a certain amount of time before issuing a command if an order has already been shouted out. When the player tells one unit to take a defensive positions or to move to a point, the rest of the army must wait for a period of time, depending on the morale, discipline, and experience of the unit, before another order can be issued.

In short, Legion Arena will deliver in the graphical department, though perhaps not as spectacularly as Rome: Total War. However, the bevy of personalization options and equally rich array of upgrades and special training techniques should make Legion Arena thoroughly replayable and strategically enjoyable. Look for it in on store shelves later this year.


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