Great Invasions Review
As its title implies, Great Invasions: The Dark Ages is a strategy game set during the time between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Battle of Hastings. There have been very few, if any, strategy games that have selected this particular period of history as their setting, and after Great Invasions it will probably be a while before we see another.
Great Invasions models itself on the Europa Universalis games, taking everything that was a negative with those games and serving it up with worse graphics and an even harder to navigate interface. The game map covers all of Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East during the Dark Ages and makes these fractious and tumultuous times seem even more so by grouping loosely-related factions into blocks and naming them after colors. You begin a game by deciding whether to play as team green or blue or what have you, and then proceed to try and control your multi-headed and geographically-challenged beast as scores of messages flood the screen informing you that the Saxons are now trading with the Huns or some inpronouncibly named group is revolting against the Persians. It’s bad enough that you need to try an manage your relations with the myriad of other factions packing the map, but matters are made much the worse by the fact that you have to do it for each group shoehorned into your rainbow coalition. The game is ostensibly a real-time strategy game, but so much happens at once and you’re bombarded with so much information that you will have to perpetually pause the game just to try and sort though all of the noise. I know there are some gamers who equate “complexity” with “strategic depth”, but this game is complicated to the point of being obtuse. Rather than throw the kitchen sink into the game, the designers should have first stopped to think if you’d really ever need to wash your hands. I really can’t recommend that anyone pour the hours into this game that are needed just to get a handle on things when the payoff just isn’t there. Making matters worse, you’ll spend that time staring at graphics out of the Dark Ages and trying to read through some poorly translated text that is even harder to understand than reading Beowulf in its original Old English.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 45%. In Great Invasions, The Dark Ages refer to the hours upon hours you’ll spend trying to make sense of things.