Sango 2 Demo Impressions

The fog Band are my least favourite of Bath's local bands. I think they've split up now. They were on every week at Moles. Man!

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…

Tim Stone has an erection right now

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…

You will be crushed by the all-powerful Hook
Not if the Long Snake defeats you, my friend

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:

Fucking Fog


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.


  1. Janek says:

    That’s one badass hat. It’s like a crown crossed with a seesaw.

  2. Beefeater says:

    Well, if nothing else it’s nice to see these games popping up on the radar. It’s a bit depressing though: the 3 Kingdoms period has the same stranglehold on the Chinese market that WW2 has on the Euramerican one.
    More Chinese games translated into English is a good thing though. I’m still trying to get my hands on a rumoured Opium War wargame to annoy the in-laws.

  3. Him says:

    Whee! Twilight of the Arnor!

  4. UncleLou says:

    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.

    Heh, I downlaoded it for that very reason last night, never had heard of it before. I didn’t have the fog (at least not that bad), but the armies were running about like in a silent movie. On fast forward. Within 20 seconds, the battle was over.

  5. Albides says:

    Aw. The total-War esque pic got me all excited but the impressions left me a bit cold. Still, I might give it a shot. I really wish there were more games that aren’t set in Western settings. Shogun was great.

    That said… “It’s Lu Bu! Lu Bu! Aaaaaaah!”

  6. Malagate says:

    Hmm doesn’t sound so great, but then the last historical RTS I played was Empire Earth and I’ve never touched the Total War series.
    I have heard of a lot of game series that focus on primarily european, asian and even american areas. I’ve not heard of any strategy games that have featured Africa beyond the obligatory Egypt game/campaign. I have the sad feeling that I’ll never be able to command a tenacious band of masai warriors on the sevana, or swamp a bunch of sun burnt brits with Zulus. Even the Aztecs and Mayans have been featured in at least one game…

  7. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Well, Malagate, you say you’ve never even touched the Total War series, which is a shame, because it’s a much more cerebral game than C&C-derived RTSes, the ‘Craft games included. Empire Earth has resources and unit production on the battle map. Total War leaves all that stuff to a separate Civ/Risk-like Strategic Layer, and keeps the battles free of the usual annoying RTS artifice cliches–it’s all about commanding your units and your own tactical acumen.

    Also, the Aztecs were featured in Medieval II: Total War, if that’s what you mean. The Medieval side of the series also has a lot of African factions. Because, well, there was a lot of fighting involving African nations back then, what with the Moors crossing the Magreb and attempting to conquer Europe, and Egypt is a major player due to its proximity to the Outremer.

    But if you want Subsaharan Africa… might wanna wait for Empire: Total War. Imperialism, worldwide battles, and more detailed firearm unit controls. Also, naval battles. And, maybe, they might let you play a native power, too.

    As far as Brits in Africa go… I’d like to play as the Brits at Rourke’s Drift at least once.

  8. Mister Yuck says:

    I can’t wait for Empire: Total War. I am a goddamn naval nerd, and beating the shit out of the English with a Dutch fleet would be a dream come true.

  9. Malagate says:

    Aha, cheers Jasper! I had the sneaking suspicion that I was missing something, as such from last night I’ve been eyeing up the Total Wars: Eras box set (everything so far apart from Medieval II). The “at least one game” I was thinking of was the Age of Empires 2 expansion, which shows how long ago it was that I played this kind of RTS!
    I must say Mount & Blade has rekindled my interest in the whole historical warfare genre, when Eras is in stock I might just pick it up.

  10. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Glad to hear! Could always use more people getting the Total War word out, and I hope you enjoy it–Rome has the best AI, but Shogun has the purest application of the series’ tactical concepts.

    Ironically, the one thing in Mount & Blade I wish for the most is the ability to order one’s troops around in coherent units. Like in Total War.

    Those spearmen would be so much more effective against cavalry if they’d all just *line up right!* There’s nothing I’d want more than for Mount & Blade to eventually turn into “Total War, but with the ability to personally jump into the fray.”

  11. FhnuZoag says:

    Actually, the fog looks like a weather effect, that it seems you were warned about in the pre-battle screen. (Usually, the attacker in these games gets to pick the time of battle, and hence the weather) Though it does seem the AI cheated to see through the fog though.

    I’m totally looking forward to Empire. Crushing the american rebels would be so much fun. *evil grin*

  12. Jimi Hendrix says:

    ahhh special powers in games with historical settings!

  13. Pod says:

    You should have activated the “everyone breath out…NOW” special power to disperse the fog.

  14. Cao Cao says:

    I believe this game you can change the gamma in the game which may help minimize the weather effects. But it does take some of the challenge out of the night battles when the enemy army looks radioactive from the glow.