This game... I was really excited to play Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes. I'm a big fan of tactical and turn-based strategy games and I couldn't wait to dig in. On paper, this game has pretty much everything a strategy fan could ask for. Your developing kingdom or empire has a lengthy tech tree with three distinct branches. You can engage your armies in tactical combat, controlling each troops movements a la Tactics:Ogre or just let the battle play out automatically from the overworld. You can use your sovereign to cast tactical and strategic spells, decimate enemy armies, and tame dragons to fight alongside your army. You can even customize your avatar, kingdom history, racial traits, and design all of your units.
The list of things to do in this game is just about inexhaustible... which is likely where everything went wrong.
This game is an incredibly un-polished experience, so much so that I wonder if the devs even test-played it, as this very much feels like a game that is still in late beta stages. In my opinion, this is because there's just so much going on, that the developers were incapable of playtesting everything thoroughly. I ran into more than a few save bugs and stability issues, and late game lag is incredibly common, even on a very high-end rig. While the environment art is pretty exceptional and overa-all enjoyable, I found the character models to be among the most hideous designs I've ever seen. They are amateur at best and downright ugly at worst. While not a core component, I did feel like something was lost in the customization when no matter which outfit I picked, my sovereign still turned out to be an eyesore.
But, due to the insane levels of customization and depth of gameplay, all of these foibles could be easily overlooked if not for one glaring, inescapable issue.
The AI in this game may be the worst artificial intelligence I've ever encountered in a game of any kind. There are extremely limited diplomacy options, which basically boil down to: pay money, or be paid money for peace, neither of which are very fun or exciting. While more are unlocked later in the game, you're unlikely to ever see them before going to war. The AI seems to have one goal and one goal only: to declare war. It might declare war in the first five minutes of meeting you, or it might wait for five hours, but you can be damned sure it's going to happen.
The way that the AI decides friend from foe is a complete and utter mystery to me. More than once, the enemy AI went from being my best friend (green happy face) to being at war with me the next turn, which was completely baffling. Once at war, the AI will throw every platoon it has at you. It will send all of its troops straight to their death, over and over again, never adjusting its strategy, until it has completely exhausted all of its kingdoms resources and must surrender to you.
At the end of the day, I want to recommend this game so badly, because there is just so much going on that begs to be explored. But no matter how great the rest of the game is, there is just no way around the AI.
Posted: January 15th, 2014