Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc Review
Wars & Warriors: Joan of Arc is less a historical simulation than it is a console-style third-person action game. Unless, that is, I’ve got my history wrong and Joan of Arc did in reality run around the French countryside single-handedly slaying the odd one, two, ten, or twenty Englishmen she’d run across. Apparently the names are the same but the facts have been changed to protect the innocent. No matter – we play games because they’re fun, right? So is Joan of Arc fun? Let’s take a look and see...
|A typical mob scene in the game.|
In Joan of Arc you primarily play as the game’s namesake, but have the opportunity to control a few of her key allies at certain times in the game as well. The game is played from a third person perspective and you control Joan using the familiar WASD/mouse look action game scheme. Attacks are done with the mouse buttons – click the left button for a normal strike and the right for a more powerful sword stroke. The game also makes use of a combo attack system similar to those found in fighting videogames. However, while videogame combo attacks can be quite elaborate and require complicated combinations of button presses to initiate, you only have the two mouse buttons to work with in Joan of Arc. This means that the combos are tied to sequences of clicks such as right click->right click->right click or right click->left click->right click. Since you’ll be clicking away at these buttons during battles anyway, there’s no real strategy to using the combos. They just sort of happen during the battles and you wouldn’t even notice many of them if the game didn’t display the word “combo” when one is performed.
In addition to your melee attack, you can use a bow as long as you’ve got some arrows in your inventory. The arrows actually come in several varieties, including the famous Medieval French exploding arrow, so you’ve got a few options when launching a ranged attack. When you switch to your bow the game switches to a first person view. To fire an arrow you place the crosshairs over your target and click. The game will automatically give your shots the loft needed to hit distant targets. It’s cool to watch an arrow arc high and rain down on your victim, but there’s not a lot of challenge in placing a crosshair on a target and letting the game decide how to get your arrow there. It’s “fire and forget”, 15th Century style.
The combat controls are pretty simple, which on the one hand is a good thing considering how much fighting you’ll be doing. On the other hand it means that the game’s combat quickly begins to feel repetitive. This repetition is compounded by poor AI of the enemy soldiers who know only one tactic, the straight ahead charge and mob. The AI is so dense it more often than not fails to recognize elevation differences or obstacles. You can stand above a cliff or in a tower and pick off enemy soldiers one by one with your arrows as they repeatedly bash their heads at the obstacle at your feet. The game tries to ratchet up the challenge level by sending large mobs of enemies at you that swarm around you. In these mob scenes you are aided by the fact that a swing of your sword can knock back several enemies at once. However, it is impossible to see much of what is going on, let alone aim your sword strokes, so these battles degenerate into click-fests. Just keep clicking until no one is left standing while pressing the hotkey to consume one of the health restoring items from your inventory when needed and you’ll make it through most of the game’s battles without too much trouble.