By Kieron Gillen on May 8th, 2008 at 8:12 pm.
Magitech have released a 1.3 gigabyte (Or, in the new metric scale, approximately 1 “Who are you kidding? We used to get demos on Floppy discs. And where have all the green fields all gone?”) demo of Sango 2, a Shogun-esque Wargame set around the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It allows you have a crack at one of its campaigns (Liu Bei’s one, though in-game he doesn’t have the same awesome hat as his Wikipedia entry). It features strategy and not much explanation.
I did have a crack at it though.
I admit, the main reason I thought to have a crack was the screenshots which features masses of Total-War esque people bashing the living shit out of each other. Not particularly dramatically, but I figured there may be a game there. So I wasn’t quite expecting to be dropped into a map screen, like so…
I’ve pulled out to the maximum and put on the “Show Kingdoms” option – the basic view is a little more pictorial, but initially unfathomable. To be fair, the clue should have been in the Total-War esque graphics – a Total War-esque strategy-mode should be expected. However, there’s a distinct lack of proper in-game tutorials – the first time you access a page you get a breakdown of the screen with a load of arrows and annotations. Of course, it’s somewhat overwhelming, so I kind of try and get by with my basic gaming sense. Which isn’t really enough.
I do make an army though, and send generals off and form alliances and with some neutral enemies, and similar. By which point an army has arrived at my capital, and I’ve marched back my forces to meet them. They outnumber me 5 to 1, but I figure I can have a crack anyway.
At which point I get something that looks nifty. It’s a pre-battle set up screen, that lets you select between pre-defined formations, and then apply your generals to each area. You only get to control wherever you have a general, it seems. Also, formations named things like snake always amuse me. Like so…
I was half hoping the battle would be a hands off affair, where the formations play out but it’s actually a slightly more arcade version of Total War. That is, major generals appear to have special moves and… okay, I’ve got a bigger problem. Namely I start the game, and it’s like this:
Can’t see anything, and by the time I’ve worked out where the enemies were, they’d fired of some sort of special move – with their general doing a particularly smug pop-up – causing some of my soldiers to fight each other, and they’d piled in, thrashing me to death. This is about 1/2 of the soldiers in my kindgom.
And then the game doesn’t load the strategic map up again. I take it as my queue to exit, as while I am in the mood for a deep strategy game, that’s already being filled by the just-release Galactic Civilization 2: Twlight of the Arnor pack.
In short, it’s the sort of thing I’d only recommend someone to download if they had the devotion required to hack back the tutorials and actually pay attention – and even with that, the multi-tab interaction with only very few options available on every screen doesn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm. If you want to give it a shot, it’s here. And if you’re already sold for some reason, you can buy it from here.
In short: Fucking fog.