Finally, we all have the chance to play a game where our timber trader gets robbed and murdered, we don’t have the resources to research three-field crop rotation and then a volcano erupts next to our most prosperous town. Games!
Grand Ages: Medieval is a real-time strategy game encompassing the 4X tenets we all know and love. You’re tasked with expanding your empire from one village at the beginning of the game to hundreds of individual townships a couple of dozen hours later – as long as you’ve been paying attention to ‘X’ number two and expanding. Along the way you’ll have to exploit – there’s ‘X’ three – the 20 million square kilometre map of Europe so you’re able to get your hands on the 20 goods in the game.
Said goods are used in what is Grand Ages: Medieval’s main draw: its trade system. You need resources to build, to feed your people and armies, and generally keep everything ticking over, but you can’t get everything in just one town. As such, you’re forced into operating numerous trading operations throughout the continent – fortunately devoid of micromanagement, as with many other aspects of the game – which can sometimes bring you to ‘X’ number four.
Because this wouldn’t be an empire building game without the need to exterminate those around you. You can opt for diplomacy, attempting to sort out trade deals and free passage through regions should you wish, or you can just opt to send in the cavalry to lay siege to any of your seven opponents. Honestly, there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, but it’s done well – and there’s a very welcome effort being made to cull as much mind-numbing micromanagement as possible.
TRADE SIM PEDIGREE
Having Grand Ages: Medieval explained to me in great detail, I couldn’t help but find my mind wandering to other, more fantastical settings. Namely, The Settlers. Sure, developer Gaming Minds isn’t likely to suddenly fill its game with big-headed tiny computer people and a friendly, light-hearted presentational style – but the fact I was reminded of the classic empire building series shows there’s potential here, even for those of us who are turned off by undeniably dry medieval trade simulations.
Gaming Minds has cut its teeth on titles like Grand Ages: Medieval – Patrician IV, Port Royale 3, Rise of Venice – so it knows what it’s doing, it knows how it wants to present its games. What this also means is you pretty much know what to expect from this latest title already and, who knows, maybe it will scratch an itch some of us never knew we had.