The Squares of Wellington- Cinematic
Posted on 04/10/04 @ 04:53 AM (updated 06/03/04
Intro cinematic vaguely depicts French cavalry charge on Wellington's defensive infantry squares. You get to finish the battle.
||Empires: Retail Release
A more historically detailed fully mapped scenario is nearly done, not uploaded yet. Tentative title: "Highlights of Waterloo". Final tweaking and play testing in progress. Addresses all critiques below. Scenario includes my favorite Waterloo highlights: Ney's Cavalry charges, the Imperial Guard advance, the battles for the Chateau de Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte farm, the battle for Plancenoit, and the final pursuit of Napoleon. Features a unique rally system for the Prussians.
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Waterloo is a fascinating battle in history because it is always associated with Napoleon's downfall. Napoleon, being one of the most influential people in the history of Europe, had lost his power in 1814 but was ready to try again in 1815. Napoleon conducted a clever move by splitting up Wellington and Blücher, thus dividing his enemies. However, the Prussians managed to get away from the French (after the battle of Ligny, which the Prussians lost) and went to the aid of the British, who were hard pressed at Waterloo. As thousands of Prussians charged onto the field, it was obvious that the outnumbered Napoleon had lost. As he himself had said, it is incredibly difficult to turn an offensive battle into a defensive battle.
The playability is low. The scenario starts out as a cinematic (but oddly enough not in cinematic mode, a perplexing move by the designer) and then, after showing a French charge, you get command of the troops and slaughter the French. The map can't choose between being a cinematic or a scenario; neither of these it pulls off well.
The balance is perhaps the best point of the map. Even though it is fairly impossible to lose, it was still quite interesting to try to lose as few troops as possible killing off the idle French cavalry. Why did the cavalry just stand there, though? Wasn't the order for them to destroy me?
The British squares were fairly creative and looked realistic. However, they did not meet their purpose as they were mostly destroyed by the initial French charge, thus making it appear as if the positioning in squares was useless in the first place.
Map Design: 1
The map was revealed throughout the entire game. Basically one corner of the map had been elevated far above the rest, to simulate the reverse slope the British hid behind. Some simple terrain blending was used on the hill where your troops were positioned, but the rest of the map was blank apart from a few strange sand cliff hills? The map didn't appear to be based much on the historical battlefield, and no landmarks were named or positioned. There was one cottage on the map but it was unsure if it represented anything and if so, what. Detailing the map and making it resemble the battlefield, as well as adding more terrain blending, would improve this point. Also I suggest not revealing the map except during cinematics. All your blank spots are revealed, and blank spots always look bad.
There are no instructions apart from a message basically saying that Wellington withdrew his troops, the French charged and died. The objectives aren't even marked in the objectives box. When you win, an unnamed Frenchman appears to be disappointed, cursing Wellington and calling the battle lost. The end.
Obviously a background to the battle could have been given or some more character building introduced. The Frenchman at the end was still called Mounted Grenadier and it might have been Napoleon, but it might as well have been Ney, who led the charge. We don't know. The author doesn't appear to pay much attention to detail in this department. Telling us who is who and why the battle was fought in the first place would be a nice start to improving this point.
This scenario has an interesting plan, namely showing the battle of Waterloo. However, the author magnifies one small event in the battle and when the cavalry is beaten back, you win. What of the Imperial Guard Infantry, who charged after the cavalry had been beaten back, and whose cannons nearly proved fatal to the British squares? What of the Prussian charge?
Another itching factor was the author's inability to spell the name "Napoleon" (constantly misspelled as Napolean) or France (which he spells Fraunce).
The worst point however is not the meagre historical accuracy, but rather the fact that the designer can't seem to choose between a cinematic and a normal scenario. It is obviously not a cinematic as we never enter cinematic mode and we gain command of the troops. However, it also isn't a normal scenario as the map is revealed all the time (as in a cinematic) and for a scenario, the gameplay is far below what one can expect. It seems the designer thought that his scenario would be more enjoyable if the played could do some fighting. It isn't. Had this been a cinematic-only scenario, and some more attention put into the cinematic, it would've marked quite a bit higher. As it is, it is a failed attempt to portray one of history's most famous battles.
[Edited on 04/10/04 @ 04:19 PM]