Ever wondered what it would be like if you could run your very own medieval kingdom? Apart from the grandeur and splendor of having the distinction of being a king or a ruler of your territory, what does it really mean to run a sovereignty? Many medieval adventures always has the main character go on a quest and intentionally or inadvertently, become a ruler of a kingdom. Then after all is set and done, they are quickly written off as wise and the newly crowned sovereign and his subjects would all live happily ever after. But there has to be something more to just getting the crown and ruling over one’s kingdom – there are intricacies that should be dealt with utmost urgency, like how would one’s subjects continue to live their lives safely and how you would go about having ties with other kings.
Stormfall: Age of War
Now, this more complex part of having dominion over a populace is quite a difficult task to present as an MMO, as essentially, a game that best suits this aspect of ruling over a kingdom entails for an economy simulator or a Real-Time Strategy game at best. With this in mind, Plarium has come up with Stormfall: Age of War.
Stormfall: Age of War is the newest strategy and Economy-based MMO simulator created by Plarium. The company has also created Total Domination: Nuclear Strategy as well Pirates: Tides of Fortune. This time around, they are doing away with swashbuckling and atomic energy and are going medieval with swords, shields, magic, and other fantastical creatures that players have at their beck and call in order to raise their respective kingdoms to greatness. But how does this new game measure up and deliver the goods? Let’s have a look-see!
A Word with You, My Liege
Right off the bat, Stormfall welcomes players with a voice-over tutorial of the game. This is quite a nice touch, as it makes the game feel more immersive, and the voice actors seem to be really into their characters, complete with their witty remarks here and there. As for the tutorial itself, it is pretty much straightforward – your tutor, Oberon, welcomes you to the realm of Stormfall and gives you the ins and outs of running your kingdom. Once players progress through the game, other NPCs show up and lend their wit and guidance with the more advanced proponents of Stormfall. The musical score used in the game also gives the game an epic feel, as if every action you do will have a huge impact to your ever-growing and burgeoning homestead.
The overall design of Stormfall is also worth noting. The castle and buildings are very detailed and scale well with other structures, as if each edifice boasts their importance for the enhancement of the players’ kingdoms once they are built. The design also gives a very dark and Gothic vibe when players are in their respective fiefdoms that provides a feeling of urgency to players in the sense that they have to expand and strengthen their settlement as soon as possible lest they suffer a raid or a siege from other neighboring would-be lords.
Hail to the King
Stormfall’s gameplay revolves around players doing their best to run their kingdom and garner the praise (or fear) of other players in the process. Being an economic simulator sort of game, Stormfall has players establish their respective fiefdoms into a force strong enough to rival other territories. That being said, the setting of Stormfall is a very apt choice to have this play out. Trying to run a kingdom during the medieval times proves to be a challenge, as each region has to have a working, sustainable economy. Players are instructed to manage their available resources which include food, iron, and gold; each of these resources are needed to help maintain your growing kingdom.
But other than being left as a mere economic simulator, Stormfall incorporates a nifty feudal and diplomatic system that players use in order to expand their fiefdoms even more. The feudal system has players jockey for position within their set region and do battle with other settlements by way of raiding their coffers, besieging their castles and doing some bit of spying and subterfuge. This done by building up your army by training your infantry and researching for military upgrades that would aid you in your quest for domination. Essentially, the feudal side of things rely more on brawn, connivance and deceit in order to acquire more and more resources and influence across the land.
But if ransacking your neighbor is not up your alley, Stormfall also provides a more diplomatic approach when dealing with other kingdoms near one’s own. Players can offer alliances, defend one another’s castles that are being besieged, as well as trade their resources, all to gain a favorable following among other lords. This peaceful approach can be used by players, but it would take them a bit longer to progress in the game. These two tactics serve as the game’s Player-versus-Player mode, as one uses sheer force to overpower and overthrow another player’s hold on his or her region, and the other uses mediation and diplomacy to gain power and influence.
Stormfall also has active quests that players can opt to choose. Sapphires and other in-game currency as well as additional defensive or offensive units are rewarded once these quests are completed. Each quest has a time limit, however, and players have to complete them before it expires or else they forfeit the rewards. But they can retake the quests they have missed.
It is quite notable that Stormfall has tried to put in the political aspect that goes in context with the setting of their game. Stormfall tries its best to illustrate the intricacies of dealing with people that also seek power – alliances are formed as easily as they are broken, lies and deceit also comes to light when one seeks power. All of these are happening behind the scenes while each lord is bolstering their forces, waiting for the right moment to turn on their allies and claim more ground for their empires while at the same time are wary of such treachery and double-crossings that might befall on them as well. Clearly, in Stormfall, you live and die by the steel that you hold in your hand or the one that runs through you.
All in Good Time
But, Stormfall does have some points that needs improvement. As much as it tries to cover the economic aspect of the game, Stormfall is, for all intents and purposes, an economic simulator. That means, players are usually waiting for their resources to get harvested in order for them to build their respective fiefdoms. Bolstering your forces takes time – the more pikemen you queue, the longer it would take for all of them to be trained, for instance.
Then there is also the issue of upgrading and building structures. Players are not able to create a new structure when there is already another one being built; this goes for when you’re upgrading any one of your buildings as well . This one-building-or-upgrade only system slows the game somewhat, and as the game progresses, it tends to be quite cumbersome and tedious. It’s hard to have your game be marketed to have real-time strategy elements when you are not able to build as much buildings and upgrade whatever enhancements to your army and castle when you see fit.
Also, regarding the battle scenes, it is a little unfortunate that there are no actual battle scenes to be seen when you’re raiding or besieging another lord’s castle. No matter how many pikemen, archers, warlocks, and dwarves you’ve directed to lay waste on an unsuspecting castle, one only has to imagine how grand and epic the ensuing battle would be. The absence of an actual battle scene when raiding is a letdown, as it takes away the grandeur of seeing your forces take on the offensive against the other players’ defenses and vice versa. It would have been nice if there was some way for players to actually control their armies when they decide to raid or besiege neighboring castles and see their ground infantry wail their spears, axes against the enemy while arrows and fireballs fly overhead or at least showcase the grand spectacle that comes when two opposing factions face each other in a larger-than-life encounter.
To Sum Up
Stormfall: Age of War’s pros and cons are as follows:
Lush and Well-designed structures
Rich Voice over and musical score
Decent Questing System
Diverse Interaction System with other players
Building and Upgrading Issues (can only upgrade, build one structure at a time)
Time-reliant for the most part
No actual battle scenes to speak of
As a whole, Stormfall: Age of War is a decent MMO that has players dabble with the intricacies of leading their very own kingdom to glory (or infamy). A great-looking game that has a great and believable voice-over cast, surprisingly varied options when dealing with other players, and an easy-to-learn game controls. If you’re the type who wants to get a test your mettle of lording over your very own kingdom and seeing it expand into something greater by any means necessary, then Stormfall: Age of War might be the game for you!
Rating: 4 out 5 stars