• Field of Glory 2 review by Rick Moscatello

    Almost Glorious

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    My pet peeve about the Civilization games is how little ancient warfare it has. Even though the game starts around 4000 BC and ends in the modern era, those first 5,000 years go by quickly. It takes a thousand years to build some decent troops, and another few centuries to crawl them over to the nearest enemy city. If the city has any defense, it’ll take another thousand years to actually capture it…before you know it, knights are on the battlefield, then muskets and tanks, with any ancient warfare a dim memory (even if it was just a few hours of play earlier). Basically, you get time for one campaign in the ancient era, then it may as well be the modern era.

    Field of Glory 2 promised to slake my thirst for ancient warfare…it does a decent enough job, though it falls short in almost every category once you get off the field of battle. Let’s take a closer look.

    The biggest pro here is the history: ancient era troops from across Europe and Northern Africa are here to do battle, from Greek phalanxes and Roman legions, to barbarian hordes and elephants. A number of historical battles await your simulation, and considerable historical background given as well; it’s a fun read.

    Ancient battles were primarily set-piece affairs on a mutually agreeable battle site. In those days, countries were ruled by hereditary kings, with the victor gaining ownership of at least a city, if not a country—neither side was (usually) interested in city warfare, since that would risk destroying a precious asset that could be passed down to heirs (rather different from modern warfare, where the rulers need not concern themselves with civilian casualties, as the president/prime minister/chancellor/whatever will be leaving office in a few years anyway).

    Set-piece battles are all about initial placement of troops, as there’s no way you’re going to reconfigure your army once the fighting begins. You want to make sure your weaker troops are not pitted against elite troops, and you want to exploit terrain if at all possible, among a few other factors.

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    Infantry in this era could hold their own against cavalry.

    Your best hope for victory is to achieve a flank or rear attack, although you might possibly inflict strategically significant casualties with your javelins, arrows, and sling stones (in this era, hacking with a sword was generally far more effective at killing enemies than ranged attacks). Usually you won’t be so lucky as to get a flank attack early in the battle, you’ll generally have to hope you’ve pitted your superior troops against the enemy’s weaker troops, pushing them back or routing them, and opening up a hole to allow some maneuvers (while hoping his attempts to do the same to you are slower in coming to fruition).

    In addition to flanking and rear attacks, having a height advantage, or a skill advantage, presence of a general, or a troop type advantage (eg, elephants are good against cavalry) can all influence individual fights, and there are a few other factors as well.

    The battles are fun, and often there will be several turns where all you can do is hope your guys can beat their guys in a timely enough manner, with many battles going back and forth until an ultimate victor is determined.

    Generally victory is determined by defeating about half of the enemy army…and this is where the game’s very rough edges rub me the wrong way.

    Once you win, it’s over, no matter how many troops are still on the field. Time and again I’d finally achieve the breakthrough I’d spent an hour trying to get…only to have the match instantly end, no option to continue and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

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    There really should have been more here.

    After the battle, you get to see a statistics screen that gives a very light overview, telling almost nothing. I could list quite a few things I’d love to know here, but glaring omissions are “most valuable unit” (in terms of kills), most damaged unit (in terms of losses), most time in combat, and maybe a mention of generals killed in battle. Granted, nothing matters for the next round, but it’d still be nice.

    In addition to quick battles, you can fight in a “campaign,” a series of a half dozen or so battles where you more or less use the same army and fight the same enemy. These are fun, but, again, so much is lacking. Yes, troops can improve a little over the course of a campaign, but my generals are still figureheads of no particular uniqueness, and battles still end abruptly with only that meager statistics screen at the end. Insult to injury here is each successive battle pits you against a larger force than before—possible tactics drop off sharply as you are ever more outnumbered, with the last few battles more about just huddling on hilltops and hoping for the best than any serious strategy. There are just too many enemies to allow much in the way of maneuver. Again, there’s no high score or anything lasting, so it’s hard to justify more than playing a few times in an attempt to do better.

    While I like the attempt at historical accuracy regarding battles of this era, one important factor was overlooked: fatigue. In this game, both infantry and cavalry can charge and fight indefinitely without, as near as I can tell, getting even a little tired. The game gives a nice discussion of a typical Roman line of battle (multiple ranks of troops of particular types), but this type of formation only makes sense if troops get tired—the fresh soldiers in the back ranks will have a distinct advantage when they come to grips with an enemy that’s already been fighting previous troops, even if they beat them into the ground; as it is, you generally just need one good line with minimal reserves, since getting everyone into combat immediately, and keeping them there as long as possible, is pretty much the optimal strategy.

    Overall, Field of Glory 2 is a good ancient battle simulator, but the days where a good computer game can just be random battles of no lasting impact or record are pretty much over. Despite the glaring issues, students of history should take a look all the same, as students can at least get some lasting knowledge from playing here.

    Overall Rating: 72
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Fog of War 2 review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Doom's Avatar
      Doom -

      The game is called Field of Glory 2, not Fog of War 2....can we fix this please? My bad.
    1. Kanati's Avatar
      Kanati -
      I don't see any way of modifying the article once published.