I'm torn with Kohan: Ahriman's Gift
. For one, it's an excellent game, adding a few tweaks to the original Kohan
formula and keeping the game interesting. This is a Good Thing. But it's being sold as a separate game, and unfortunately I don't think the changes in the game really warrant a full purchase if you already own the first one, unless you're a die-hard fan. I think that Kohan: Ahriman's Gift
would have worked much better as an expansion pack. But nonetheless, here it is in its full-form glory.
The storyline is actually rather intriguing, shedding a lot of new light upon the whole world of Khaldun and the Kohan's place in it. You start off the main campaign as Roxanna Javidan, Darius' wife (he was the main character of the original Kohan) and a decidedly more evil sort of person. Indeed, Ahriman's Gift is all about playing as the Ceyah, the inimitable bad guys from the original game. Instead of trying to help save the world, you're trying to subjugate it. The game is actually a prequel, which means that you already know the Ceyah don't win, but it's an entertaining romp nonetheless.
For the most part, the game itself plays identically to the original title. For those who didn't play the first game, some explanation is definitely needed, because the Kohan series doesn't play much like anything else out on the market. While Kohan: Ahriman's Gift is a real-time strategy, don't let that fool you into thinking that it's like most of the other stuff out on the market, which amounts to complicated grunt-rushing. No, Ahriman's Gift really requires strategy. Instead of controlling separate units, you control companies, and even then you don't have unit-by-unit mastery of the groups. You simply tell a company where to go and what to do, and let the AI handle it from there. The number of companies you can control is very limited, keeping the game from becoming a rush, and because your troops gain experience as they battle you'll want to keep them alive as long as possible.
Resource 'gathering' is similarly unique, mainly because you never see any resource other than gold. The rest are simply deficit or surplus, and the amount of gold you get per turn depends on just how deficient you are in various productions. It's wonderful not having to collect resources any more. Your units automatically heal when they're in your realm's zone of supply, which is another nice micromanagement thing that you don't have to deal with. Indeed, a lot of Kohan: Ahriman's Gift's charms come from the fact that you can truly concentrate on the important things, like overall strategies, and keep your mind off of the nitpicky details that consume most other RTSes.
Ahriman's Gift adds a number of improvements, although only the hardcore series fans will really notice them. There are new units for each side, which makes things more interesting, along with unique structure upgrades that can help you as well. There are also new multiplayer modes, like King of the Hill, which will undoubtedly add more time with the game. There are three new campaigns, one large and two other, less central ones.
The real problem is that that's just about all that's new. Yes, the Map Editor has been tweaked and the like, but for the most part this is the sort of thing you expect in an expansion, not in a full-priced new game.