|Real-time strategy games
have gone through waves of popularity over the last six or seven years. I've
always liked the concept -- starting with
Dune 2 on the Amiga back in the early 90s and continuing through the Command & Conquer games -- but they usually left me cold about halfway through the game. That
is until I played Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns. For the first time in quite awhile,
a PC strategy game had me staying up late, playing 'til I was bleary-eyed and
Kohan puts you in the role of a recently awakened immortal who has survived
a Great Cataclysm with little memory of his past. It is up to you to free the
land of Khaldun from a dark force known as The Shadow by reviving other immortals
and using strategy to defeat its armies.
What sets Kohan:
Immortal Sovereigns apart from other real-time strategy games
of late is that strategy actually plays a part in the game's proceedings. Simply
creating large armies that overpower your opponents will not work. This is
because the game does not allow that type of blitzkrieg tactic. The creation
of your forces -- known as companies -- is dependent upon the economic situation
of your kingdom. If you're short on production of certain resources, you may
have to scale back your forces and rebuild your economy before flexing your
Another of the game's assets is the lack of micromanagement that's involved.
The companies you create actually have a relatively intelligent set of guidelines
that they use to determine their course of action. Of course, you have a say
in what they'll eventually do, but they can be pretty smart on their own. The
trick comes down to assembling companies that will achieve the desired results.
Because companies are made up of a front line, support elements and a commander,
your job is to commission them with the right combination of offensive and
defensive strengths. It's not really difficult to get a feel for what works
best in each mission, so this is an enjoyable aspect of the game. That's something
you really can't say about the micromanagement required in most other RTS games.
It's immediately obvious that a great deal of care went into the creation
of Kohan when you choose the game's tutorial lesson. This, of course, is meant
to teach you the basics of the game's mechanics. Without even glancing at the
manual, you can gain most of the knowledge you need to take on the game confidently.
This makes Kohan a very easy game to pick up and play yet it still remains
challenging. (Yet, I do recommend you at least glance at the manual for many
helpful tidbits of information.)
Also in Kohan's favor is the back story involving the world of Khaldun and
the fight against the forces of The Shadow. The story, which is told via narrated
text between missions, takes a few neat twists and turns as you proceed through
the single player mission. It gives the game a few RPG-like qualities that
I really enjoyed. However, the ending left a bit to be desired. A few political
elements, like proposing alliances to the various races found in Khaldun is
just icing on the cake.
When playing a real time strategy game, one doesn't expect to be blown away
by the graphics nor overwhelmed by the controls. Kohan features the usual RTS
graphics, albeit in 1024x768 mode which allows for a lot of nice detail, and
provides a logical and pretty responsive control system. Hot keys exist for
most of the commands, but I used the mouse to control 99% of the action.
All in all, Kohan:
Immortal Sovereigns is one of the most satisfying and addictive
games I've played on the PC in years. With an expansion pack planned for release,
it looks like I'll be taking a trip back to Khaldun in the very near future.
I'm really looking forward to it.
Requirements: PII 300 or equivalent, 64 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, SVGA card with
4MB VRAM, 400 MB disk space, Mouse, Sound card, and DirectX v7.0
on: AMD Duron 800, 128 MB RAM, 40x DVD-ROM, 32 MB TNT2 M64 video card, Logitech
Optical Mouse, Diamond MX 400 Sound Card, and DirectX 8.0a.