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Score: 60%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer: Primal Software
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Given the glut of RTS games on the market, it’s a tough task to distinguish one game from the rest of the market. Recent games like Warlords Battlecry III and Nemesis of the Roman Empire, while not standouts in the genre, have managed to offer different takes on the genre which are relatively successful. Besieger, on the other hand, tries to offer something different, but doesn't quite escape the shadow of other games in the genre.

The graphical engine behind Besieger is impressive, at least on the technical side of things. The overall style of the game is solid, but brings with it a strange feeling that you’ve seen everything here before. Units are also small in comparison to the game's super-sized environments, which are the main graphical attraction. The draw distance for each battleground is very impressive. Forests, mountains, falling snow -- the game has it all and shows it off at every possible moment. Even some of the more subtle effects like swaying trees and day/night cycles are present, adding a nice atmosphere to the carnage. Environments also take into account terrain level, which not only looks really cool, but also factors into gameplay in terms of defensive bonuses if you can control the hill top.

The overall sound quality in Besieger is poor with most effects being drawn from the stock RTS file. Swords clanging, arrows flying -- you've heard it all before. Voice acting isn't the best I've heard, but it’s passable. My biggest complaint is that voices never seem to fit the characters they're meant to portray. Music is good, but doesn't stand out as anything spectacular. Tracks come in two basic variations; quiet and loud. During peaceful times, quiet somber music plays while horns blare out during battle. The effect would have been better if the music didn't all sound alike.


Besieger is the story of Konin, the King of Cimmeria, and his desire to obtain the legendary sword Krom. Sound a bit familiar? No, this isn’t THAT Krom or even THAT Cimmeria, and it’s Konin, not Conan. Unfortunately, this is indicative of the rest of the game, which feels more like a retread of nearly everything we've seen before.

Anyway, while searching for the sword, Mara, Konin's sister, uses her magic to take over the city of Tark, the capital of Cimmeria. This causes the Vikings to send Earl Barmalay to retrieve the Hammer of Thor in order to prepare for an imminent invasion by the Cimmerians. The attack comes sooner than anticipated and Earl is not able to retrieve the Hammer in time. The game opens with these two heroes setting out to reclaim their stolen lands.

Besieger is split into three modes: Campaign, Skirmish and Multiplayer. Campaign follows the game's story across 20 missions and interweaves the tales of both Konin and Earl. Skirmish mode allows players to define their own games and offers a few different mission goals, such as the standard "Destroy Everything" mode and some non-standard additions like Battle, which gives you a limited number of troops, and Siege, which challenges you to take over a castle. Multiplayer mode is similar to Skirmish mode as far as options with the only difference being that you can play up to eight human players rather than AI controlled bots.

Overall, Besieger feels uninspired and generic. Again, there's really nothing here you haven't seen before and the differences that are present aren't really that noteworthy. Mission objectives never offer anything beyond having to build one town or destroy another. The story is engaging though, so at least there's something to encourage you to progress through all 20 missions.

As far as units go there is very little variation. If one side has it, the other does too -- only with spears being replaced by arrows. This is certainly nothing to fault the game with since this is the case in most RTSs, yet there's no real factional advantage present to at least try and set the two apart. Aside from standard units, you also have access to Hero units, which are way overpowered. Early in the game this isn't too much of a problem, but once you get past the first few missions you can win whole campaigns by just attacking with your heroes since their attacks easily level any enemy troops and most fortifications. This removes most of the strategy from the game.


AI is easily one of the weaker aspects of the entire game. Most of the problem has to do with the pathfinding AI, but there are also times where the AI decides to go rogue on you and ends up killing itself. When on an open battlefield, the pathfinding is generally good. However, one you start sieging fortifications, which is a major part of the game, units have a hard time. If the passage is blocked by a flood of soldiers (both your own and those of your opponent), units will begin to wander off in search of a new path to the location you told them to travel to. This usually leaves them open to archers, who can easily pick the strays off.

The AI tends to slip into predictable patterns, resulting in a mildly challenging game. Forces tend to come in waves, as opposed to a giant army. This keeps you on your toes, but you usually know what's coming and when -- making it much easier to plan defenses.

Game Mechanics:

Besieger sticks to the conventional mouse and keyboard combo and doesn't really stray too far from what you've already seen in countless other games. This aspect isn't difficult and should already feel like second nature. The one aspect that will take some getting used to is the camera controls, which is relatively new to the genre. The camera is split into three different types: Simple, Advanced, and Follow. Advanced is the easiest of the three to use, and should become your default camera setting; but it is far from perfect. When trying to pull the camera around a mountain range, or another high terrain, the camera becomes jumpy and will start to reset where it wants to go, rather than where you want it. Basic and Follow modes offer very little to either the experience or general tactics.

Overall, Besieger offers an all-to-typical RTS. While the game looks great, it still lacks that certain charm that makes some of the heavies in the genre stand out.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/Me/2000/XP; 1 GHz Pentium III; 256 MB RAM

Test System:

Windows XP; Pentium 4 1.7 GHz; Radeon 9100 128 MB; 40 Gig HD; 640 MB RAM

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