Show Me The: Hegemony: Phillip Of Macedon

Get 'em! They're different from us!

I was planning on actually diving straight into serious work today, thinking I’ll swiftly lob up a new demo post. However, watching the trailer for the just-released Hegemony: Phillip Of Macedon something caught my eye and I thought I’d give it a quick crack. Looks kinda-Total-War-y with a more robust control system. I better check if it is that. It’s not that! It’s actually something else, which is also kinda nifty and certainly enough to make me recommend anyone interested in novel RTS-games to give a try. Video and further thoughts follow…

You’ll see the bit which caught my eye – a battle-scene with the player sending the cavalry on a sweeping move, before “clicking” a phalanx into position. That’s my main reservation with Total War’s system at the moment, which especially is always at its worst during sieges. As in, it’s all too often just a mess. I think they need to abstract a little to increase the “clarity” of the tactics and reduce how often it turns into a blobby melee, so I’m pleased to see Hegemony try this. That Greece is one of my favourite ancient-themes makes it even more attractive.

But despite the initial sweeping pan across Greece on a strategy map, this isn’t the dual-sided game of Total War. It’s a more traditional RTS, in that the economics and tactical side are firmly integrated. I didn’t even have time to be disappointed, because it’s immediately throwing its own twists. As you claim and rebuild settlements, you have to order them to link up with another settlement, sending little ox-carts all over the place. And the ox-carts can be attacked, leading to areas becoming unsupplied. Which matters, because “having enough food to eat” is absolutely key to the game. That the initial steps in the game’s tutorial isn’t “how to build units” but “how to capture farms and resupply there” says much. Seeing the links spread up between your empire’s holdings is as satisfying as the more-traditional RTS-pleasure of your base building up – and oddly atmospheric, in terms of feeling like a kingdom. The game’s tutorial also walks that elegant line between setting a variety of interesting objectives to work towards (and so learn the game), without actually turning it into simple-hand-holding.

Problems? Well, it’s an indie-RTS. Aesthetically speaking, it’s perfectly competent – well into the top half of the indie-genre – but it’s not exactly state of the art. Also, the unit control system requires a little wrestling with to actually understand what you should be clicking to get it to do what you want. It’s actually simpler than I thought – just double-click whatever individual from a mass you want – but it may trip you up. The demo also finishes at simultaneously at a moment that’s simultaneously annoying and brilliantly timed, given a demo’s purpose of making you want to play more. It does it with a lot of style, and if I didn’t have too much else on today, I’d be throwing down my money right now.

You get the demo from Longbow Games’ site, and also pay for the full version. Which is $29.99, which – to preempt the indie-game/mainstream-game pricing double-standard debate, strikes me as perfectly reasonable for a content-rich RTS like this. Definitely give it a try.

46 Comments

  1. sonofsanta says:

    One day you’ll burn for your sins against punnage, Gillen.

  2. JB says:

    Downloading as I write this, looks interesting!

  3. Sarlix says:

    So something crossed between total war, age of empires and company of heroes. Sounds intriguing.

  4. Jesterrr says:

    Definitely want to take a crack at this. Too bad I’m still stuck without an internet connection at home for the next couple of days. Blargh!

  5. Erik says:

    in the beginning i thougth it looked cool, but then when i saw three units standing and hitting a house i relized that this is age of empires rip off, and age of empires is for kids:( just spamm units and you win. And when they fight they do the same motion every time, it looks like they r a dancing group or sumething…

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It’s really not, man. It’s got a splash of 4X stuff in there too, as well as what I mentioned.

      KG

    • Carra says:

      Age of Empires a game for kids?

      Shoo you troll!

    • Philip L says:

      So are you saying that kids go for unit composition and strategy when playing, but mature adults, such as yourself, care more about the animations of a unit attacking? If so, consider me a kid!

  6. Baboonanza says:

    OMG, It’s the game I’ve had in my head for the last five years!

    So awesome.

  7. Baboonanza says:

    And I just realised I’ve got the whole of Saturday free, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to be playing.

    I think I now know :)

  8. The Hammer says:

    As someone who doesn’t enjoy the rank-and-file shooting matches that recent Total War games have become (I’m hoping for Rome 2: Total War next), this game looks like it could be just what I’ve been wanting for the past few months. I do like the seamless integration of campaign to battle (an evolution of Rome’s shared terrain between the two modes), and the apparent ease of which trade happens. I’m going to give the demo a shot!

    • ironanno says:

      Seconded! I’ve enjoyed Rome: Total War more than any other game in the series. Judging from the demo it’s not as epic in proportions, but then again, like Kieron says, it’s not aiming to be. Having said that Empire became a bit too epic for my tastes. Too many armies to control, having to wage war at sea, upgrading buildings, diplomacy, tech tree, gah, simply too much to do for me. A couple of turns in I notice completing a turn lasts more than half an hour not counting the possible battles. Because of that I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere. So perhaps this is exactly the game I should be playing.

    • ironanno says:

      In the second sentence I mean the demo of Philip of Macedon and not a demo of Rome: Total War.

  9. Heliocentric says:

    I’ve not spent that much on a game for years. I’m with the camp that indie games cost too much, but only when they cost actively more than the mainstream counterparts. Enough with indie pricing bullshit, aaa games end up cheap in retail or on sale. Don’t they realise they are robbing themselves?

    • Baboonanza says:

      It does also depend on the type of game. I’ll happily pay £30 (and this game is less) for a strategy game with replayability, but not for a shooter with only 8-10 hours of gameplay total (I’m not into multiplayer shooting particularly).

    • Vinraith says:

      @Baboonanza

      Exactly. Hell, I’m much happier paying $30 for an indie strategy title with massive replayability than I am paying $30 for a AAA shooter with 6 hours of gameplay. It’s all a matter of what your priorities are but indie/non-indie isn’t really a consideration in pricing for me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cooper says:

      I was gonna post something similar to Heliocentric.

      This is an arsey post, so take it in that spirit.

      There’s maybe 3 games I’ve spent more than 15 quid on in the past three years, and two of them were indie games.

      My issue with the ‘Indie game pricing’ compared to mainstream pricing which Gillen ‘prempted’ is not so much the release price – but that mainstream games drop prices very quickly, even in digital distribution where there’s usually a sale on near the 6 month mark. Indie games only available on the developer’s websites rarely change price.

      Indie developers have, admitedly, got better at this; getting on steam, having sales or ‘pay what you want’ etc etc. – there’s been a real change in the past year or so I’ve noticed.

      I’m even happy to pay more for an indie game, happier to give those developers more of my money. The large drop in mainstream prices is because at the 6 month mark or so, a game no longer needs to make money, whereas small developers may be living off of that revenue stream.

      But not -that- much. I have a personal limit I don’t like to go over, whoever developed the game. $30 is over that. That may well be because of a market skewed by large publishers being able to virtually give away their games after 12 months, maybe. It might also be becuase I don’t have that much floating cash.

      On a more positive note, this looks amazing. I have a massive weakness for anything ancient Greece related, and, by the looks of things, this is going to please me, even if it’s in a genre that is outside my comfort zone.

  10. Sobric says:

    This looks pretty good actually! I think I’ll give the demo a try tonight. Do you know if its coming with mod tools KG? I’d kill for a Peloponnesian War mod. Oh, and do you have to play as Macedon? I’d like to do some history rewrite and play as the Demostheniec faction in Athens.

  11. Heliocentric says:

    I need to add that this game does sound excellent and I’ve heard a great buzz about it. But i can only try as many games as i’d like by limiting my prices.

  12. bill says:

    I remember saving for months to get the last shiny copy of Tie Fighter – Collector’s Edition from the shelf upstairs in HMV… hoping the whole time that no one would buy it before me. For 49.99gbp.

    But then, that was standard price back then. I remember getting Doom2 for 30 quid in a dixons sale and being SO chuffed!

  13. Vinraith says:

    Now this is a good thing to wake up to, I’m intrigued. How open is the campaign map? That is, how non-linear is the game? Also, how much does performance in one battle impact the overall strategic situation? Is it possible to lose a battle but continue onwards, or is it like more traditional RTS games in that any failure simply sends you back to the beginning of the battle?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Hard to tell, really, in the demo. It’s not Total War. I get the impression it’s relatively linear, at least to begin with…

      It’s got its own ideas, and I kinda dig ’em. I think it’s the sort of thing that’s worth trying, because it’s not exactly like anything else. Bits of other stuff – Kohan came to mind occasionally – but its own thing.

      KG

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kieron

      I’m having a hard time getting my head around this, I’m going to have to try the demo when I get home. It certainly looks like it’s worth a look, even though I’m positively buried in excellent strategy titles at the moment. Thanks for the impressions.

    • Rich says:

      “I’m positively buried in excellent strategy titles at the moment.”

      I know that feeling. Just started Men of War*.
      I might have to download this and file it under demos to try later. A list that already includes SupCom2 and Napoleon: TW. Maybe when I get around to trying it, the price will have dropped a bit.
      Maybe they’ll even adopt a pay what you like model. Well I can dream.

      *OK, I’ll admit it, I completely failed to achieve the first objective of the first mission without my men being riddled with bullets. Maybe I’ll start to pay attention to the advice boxes when they pop up.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Ahh, Men of War! HOT TIP: ‘0’ will set the game to its slowest speed! This can be very useful for having any idea of what’s going on, especially when you’re new to the game.

  14. Sarlix says:

    If anyone else was concerned about demo size, it’s only a 168mb download, so quite manageable .

  15. cyrenic says:

    Oh but I do love phalanxes. They are my weak spot.

  16. Torgen says:

    If I weren’t buying a book on learning Blender this week, I’d probably buy this just from the video. Ancient Greece is an undeservedly neglected area for gaming (other than the city builders.) As a wee lad, I always wanted to construct and ancient Greece D&D campaign- bronze weapons, all the mythological beasts, etc.

    • omicron says:

      Ya dun need a book. Read the tutorial, then start Extruding things. The rest will come with time.

  17. Greg Wild says:

    A game based on Philip II you say? Oh my.

    I was sold the moment I noticed Pherae on the map. PHERAE. This game was made by kin, to me.

  18. Vitamin Powered says:

    Will definitely be giving the demo of this a go at some point.

  19. Dr. Derek Doctors, DFA says:

    I only wish more games incorporated the hard, indigestible nuts of logistics modeling into their soft, gooey gamey centers. Although, Phillip’s son excelled at building a nonconventional logistical infrastructure, disposing of the oxcarts and camp-followers and instead resupplying his men via sea transport and from captured cities. Am I alone in hoping that the inevitable sequel, HEGEMONYEST: ALEXANDER OF PHILLIP OF MACEDON, completely disposes of all the tedious strategy and tactics and just lets me concentrate on moving supply depots around the map?

  20. Greg Wild says:

    I’ve played it for a little while, and so far I’m really quite impressed. I can’t afford it at the moment – nor I think will I be able to any time soon – which is a shame.

    Strategically, it’s a fairly simple affair – like Total War’s strategic side spliced with a traditional RTS.. Build a few armies, capture settlements, respond to enemy attacks etc. What I’m most impressed by is the attention to historical detail. This game was clearly made by people who’ve taken the time to understand one of histories most gnarly areas, and it seems to have no trouble clearly explaining the strategic clusterfuck that Philip II was greeted by once he took the regency following Perdikkas’ III death. This I really, really like. Infact, I’m half tempted to poke it in the direction of my former lecturer as an introductory guide to Philip’s strategic context, since trying to explain that is half the battle in Macedonian history.

    Though, ultimately, the insufferable pedant in me would like to say that Philip probably wasn’t using pike armed phalangites until after the defeat of Bardylis. Probably. RARGH! History!

    More soon, mayhaps.

  21. Sarlix says:

    Well I just spent an hour playing the demo. First impressions are I like it. I’m not to familiar with these types of games. I can see the RTS elements, but it doesn’t really feel like one to me, somewhere between a board game and real time strategy. Indeed there is a so called ‘strategic view’ which basically looks like a board game with your units representing game pieces and the board being a big map. I’m sure you could play the game just from this view, but of course you can zoom in to get a more total war style lay-out.

    So far It’s just been sending troops out to capture other city’s/towns/farms, then securing the captured structures by building walls around them and garrisoning them with troops. and then linking them up with each other to get trade lines running. And of course fending off in-coming armies.

    I noticed your units wont automatically defend themselves, so you have to keep an eye on things or they will just stand there and get slaughtered, there could be an option to change this however, I don’t know.

    One interesting feature I noticed was the ability to capture special structures. For example I captured a villa, which then let me promote a general of my choosing, which can then be merge with other troops to boost their stats. depending on which general you pick will effect what stat boost you gain. I think this merging of generals plays more of an important role than I’ve made out, as it’s the very first thing the game has you do.

    The visuals are nice, nothing spectacular but they do the job. I found the game quite relaxing if that makes sense, and I can see it would be easy to loose a couple of hours without realizing it. Overall it seems like a good solid game and a bit different from anything else out there at the moment. :)

  22. Web Cole says:

    This looks turribly interesting, I must say.

  23. PleasingFungus says:

    Huh, I was just hearing them talk about this (or, at least, mention it in passing) on the Three Moves Ahead podcast. Demo: downloading!

  24. Simon Dufour says:

    Put it on Steam with achievements and I’ll buy it.

    • Sobric says:

      OK, on Steam I could understand.

      But Achievements? Really? Are you that (“Possessing of different priorities?” – Ed)

      EDIT: No insults.

  25. JB says:

    +1 to the growing list of impressed people.

    I’m really enjoying the demo so far, this game is certainly one to watch.

  26. Kaltano says:

    Nice, and an installer that lets me pick the install path AND start menu location. Really annoys me how many games don’t allow me this small courtesy.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Kaltano

      Which games are those? I’ve yet to run across a game that wouldn’t allow me to specify install path during installation.

    • Kaltano says:

      I was referring to Start menu location, I loathe being forced into Publisher name\publisher ceo name\ceo’s dog’s name\Developer name\Game Name\. I move the game name folder to my games\ folder on the start menu, but it’s nice being able to say where i want it rather than turning my start menu into advertising for company names I already know.

  27. Alexastor says:

    I wasn’t expecting much from this game but yeah the demo was pretty good. Being a (semi) professional developer myself I cannot play such titles for long, though. Simply because I see soo much small things which would have done the game much much better.

    Unfortunately most Indie games (like this) just lack a proper polish, especially the interface and ingame controls (selection). It’s kind of messy and the game is a little bit too dark (IMHO). Besides that it is a really decent game, though.

    I think it would be best for them to get into contract with Paradox or a similar publisher and release the game on retail ;)

    • Sarlix says:

      I read on their website that it is going retail. Not sure who the publisher is though.

  28. Jimbo says:

    Just played through the demo and I’m pretty impressed with it. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the whole game will be good of course, as these games have a habit of unraveling quite quickly once you get to around a dozen cities. So far so good though.

    I think these games really benefit from a more structured approach and not having you deal with minutiae the whole time. Hopefully this should allow the dev to prevent the ‘steamroller effect’ that always happens about half way through a TW campaign – but it’s hard to say for sure just from this demo.

    As much as I like the battles in TW, I soon find myself auto-resolving them rather than stop the campaign dead for 30 minutes and two load screens, and this seems to avoid that. The battles here seem to be sorta half way between Civ and TW.

    Also, the end of the demo is brilliant.

  29. Aury says:

    It’s a shame, this game would have been a hoot with multiplayer. I’m still waiting for some kind of successor to AoE2..in my opinion economies add a whole dimension to RTSes and I don’t like how every developer thinks it’s some sort of taboo to have them now.