Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc
Jeanne is an excellent response to the “European way of gaming” in the action genre: bright, original, filled with many wonderful finds and creative rethinking. Made filigree – very thoughtful in every aspect. Moreover, with a tremendous reserve for the future – if each aspect of the game is brought to perfection – something fundamental will turn out, a certain Phenomenon. Sincere applause to the authors and all that.
Of course, there is no sense trustingly reaching out to this game for all kinds of historical reenactors, fans of thoughtful authenticity, fans of the legendary Jeanne. All of them are better off reading literature, watching a great movie with Lily Sobeski’s awesome game, or, at worst, a simple piece of artwork by Luc Besson. It is unlikely that their consciousness will come to terms with the fact that here you can practically together defend the whole city from attack, or fall alone on a gang of three dozen knights, halberdiers, swordsmen and archers and defeat all of them, from time to time recovering yourself from complete wounding to cucumber freshness by eating salted fish, apples and loaves.
It is unlikely that they will be interested in the primitive “story” set up by the game, which is related to real events so “based on” that these motives should be examined under a microscope. WWJoA doesn’t even have a corresponding historical atmosphere, there is no special style (what are the strengths of the Japanese action games).
This game is for fans of action, action, and again action – everything else is just surroundings. At the same time: once – the “backbone” of the game itself is very well executed, that is, the combat system and character control. Two – so many diverse originalities are hung on this skeleton that the resulting impression has practically no associations with previous gaming experience. Well, three – a very good technical implementation. Is there anything else to be interested in?
Purely graphically, the game evokes direct unambiguous associations with real-time role-players with a view from the eyes and from a third person. The graphic style is typically “German”: the first thing that comes to mind when you see the first minutes of the game is the maximum zoom mode in Spellforce (when the camera is installed “behind the hero’s back”). Unlike most 3d-action games that build beautiful scenery “on a narrow linear path of the hero” and prefer to control the camera on their own, choosing the best angles and distances as they see it – an honest calculation of a fairly large map with the ability to move around freely limited for the purpose of guidance by conditional barriers (natural like cliffs or artificial like fences), but not the borders of the world as such. Due to the honesty of the calculation, the range is somewhat limited, hiding behind the traditional “veil of fog” a little closer than you would like (the power of the PC would probably have pulled your eyes and away – but the game is going to be released on the Xbox too).
The camera is always located behind the hero’s shoulders, turning synchronously to his gaze (there is a small zoom that allows the player to move his gaze a little closer for details or a little further for a better perspective from purely aesthetic preferences of the player). The camera fulfills turns very quickly – hence the most convenient overview and maneuvering (and perhaps the only claim to visualism: when turning, the hero does not move his legs, but turns as if hovering above the surface – imperceptibly in motion, but it looks funny when still).
Models are made soundly and do not cause complaints – the characters are a little better, the opponents are a little simpler. All of them are well animated – and although the movements are closer to computer-conditional than to realistic ones, the impression of the battle scenes is very good. No special animation of models is provided for plot scenes – sometimes they perform some kind of “military salutes” for expressiveness, as if it were necessary. There are special effects, but in a minimal amount – in general, the graphics as a whole are good and functional, but without the “excesses”, without the desire (or ability) to additionally strike the user’s imagination with frills (which, again, is typical of the “Japanese”). Honest, solid – “German” again – work. The landscape in the game is mostly uncomplicated – but at least with small hills, a fairly dense forest, rivers and lakes. Fortifications were made excellently – large, really large-scale – various houses look very nice from the outside. You can go into some of the selected buildings (most often elements of fortifications) – the interior decoration is primitive, but you can shoot at the enemy from there and not have gala dinners 🙂 Field buildings – ditches, palisades, turrets and tents – are very well made – most of them are also functional. Changing the time of day is supported. You will not surprise anyone with very decent water surfaces today, but the “grass, flowers” with which the “circle around the protagonist” grows as they move are made perfectly, so their “virtuality” is not striking.