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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RTS

 

Publisher

Activision Value

 

Developer

Smilebit

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2002

 

- Nice story

- Good character portraits

- Decent music

 

 

- Very rudimentary gameplay

- Troublesome pathfinding

- Plain graphics

- Awkward cameras

 

 

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Hundred Swords

Score: 6.3 / 10

This is one of those games that gets me wondering about Sega and their wacky business decisions.  This title had a pretty good buzz going for it just prior to its Japanese release in a number of the really hardcore gaming circles, yet it takes over a year to get here and worst of all, it winds up on the gaming platform that is the sworn enemy of much of the console gaming crowd: the PC.  Adding insult to injury is that this title is a real-time strategy game.  On the Dreamcast Hundred Swords had the advantage of novelty, there just arenít many games from this genre available for consoles.  You could probably count them all on one hand, now in comes this game onto a platform with such franchises as Command & Conquer, Age of Empires, and War/StarCraft.  Hundred Swords mimic much of what these games do well, while throwing in some twists, but ultimately just doesnít compare to the old guard of PC strategy games.  This is a title that is really only worth picking up if you really wanted the Dreamcast version of the game, but had to wait for some sort of localization to know what the hell was going on in the story.  Everyone else need not apply.  

hundred-swords-1.jpg (109350 bytes)         hundred-swords-2.jpg (84234 bytes)

 

The gameplay in Hundred Swords is a very clumbsy, rollie-pollie experience.  The units canít be commanded individually, you can only tell the regiments what to do, so no picking one or two brave souls to lure the enemy while the gang waits behind some rocks, sacks of door knobs at the ready.  Instead youíre stuck with large, cumbersome regiments which can are selected by clicking on the portrait of their commander.  Their pathfinding leaves much to be desired as well.  Itís like watching a sad, sad game of electronic Marco Polo, units wandering astray or getting caught up in some trees and such.  These problems largely go away after playing the game for a short while and you become accustomed to them, but sometimes in the heat of the moment youíll find yourself muttering, ďOh, bloody hell, get it together guys!Ē  because either youíve got a couple of troops falling behind, or youíre stumbling about getting a regiment to where you want it.  The rest of the game is largely your standard real-time strategy fair with either gathering resources to build up troops and gain generals so you have adequate forces to take on the enemy, or being given a finite number of soldiers to fight the good fight with.  Either way, donít expect the bad guys ní gals to really put up much resistance, they arenít pushovers, 

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but they arenít exactly the baddest bunch of mofos to ever walk the Earth.  The types of troops you have at your disposal are a tad limited too only having archers, infantry, cavalry, and mages, all of which have an enemy they can mop the floor with and, conversely, an enemy that can mop the floor with them.  Itís the polar opposite approach to unit design that we see every so often, but it feels arbitrary, almost forced.

 

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At least the story doesnít feel forced though, as it follows the story of a young king whose lands are in a civil war and heís stuck trying to make everything hunky dory again.  Itís actually a lot better than a lot of the narratives that have been in console games as of late, with some decent dialogue and an epic plot.  Conversation carries the story, though there are some translation quibbles here and there, but all in all the story is very palatable.   

hundred-swords-4.jpg (100420 bytes)          hundred-swords-5.jpg (98788 bytes)

As for aesthetics, Hundred Swords is a fine example of how bringing a game straight onto the PC from a console without any polish can hurt a titleís visuals.  The graphics in the game retain their 640X480 resolution, a la TVs so everything looks a little dull and the colors are all washed out so there just isnít that pop as the visuals jump off the screen.  Design is rudimentary too with chubby polygonal characters marching across rather sparse landscapes.  Also annoying is the cameras.  Itís either too close so you canít really see whatís around you very well, or too far so you canít tell which unit is what very well.  The one nice thing about the graphics are the character portraits during the cutscenes, these are very well draw.  As for sound, the quality isnít really there in the effects as you get the basic weapon noises and some other ambient sounds that sort of help add to the mood, but you wouldnít miss them if they werenít there though the music is alright as it wonít have you scrambling for the ďMuteĒ switch as fast as you can.

As I said before, this game is really only for those who saw Hundred Swords get released in Japan and were sort of curious about it, but couldnít play the game because they wouldnít understand what the hell is going on due to the language barrier.  The big PC RTS franchises simply destroy this game in terms of quality, even the older ones, but if youíve never played those games and donít intend to itíll make this game a lot more enjoyable.  In some ways ignorance is bliss after all.

- Mr. Nash

 

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