Building from their Conquest! Medieval Realms and Battle Academy iOS titles, Slitherine Ltd., alongside The History Channel, has released Great Battles Medieval on the App Store with the intent to depict the Hundred Years War. Players get to control both the French and the English as each side fights for control of the French crown. Does Great Battles Medieval become a Joan of Arc on the battlefield, or would we rather just skip the Hundred Years War and wait for the plague?
The black death is abundant throughout the Hundred Years War in Great Battles Medieval, since it's all over its controls, graphics, music, sound effects and gameplay. The atrocities of war pale in comparison to the fact that this actually costs a pretty premium price for an iOS game.
The History Channel logo on the title screen should have been a warning sign from the get-go; this game might be historically accurate, but I much rather would have watched an uneventful documentary that centered around times of stagnancy and peace.
Speaking of stagnancy, Great Battles Medieval is filled with it. It would make sense that a game specifically revolving around war would at least try to make its battles decent, but this title completely fails to do so. I understand that the character models are supposed to be low quality in order to have hundreds of soldiers fighting on the battlefield at the same time, but I can't take any of it seriously when entire platoons of soldiers from Medieval times are dressed like Raiden from Mortal Kombat 2. The historical accuracy of the game, along with its ability to hold hundreds of soldiers on screen at once, are the only positive things to say about Great Battles Medieval.
The war turns really bloody once we explore the controls. Tapping on the screen in order to select soldiers and locations is extremely inaccurate, and in a real-time strategy game, this is unacceptable. The same could be said of the camera controls. Pinching can zoom in, but the game would mysteriously rotate the camera every single time with no predictable or logical reason why the viewpoint would randomly swivel.
While the ability to queue multiple orders for each platoon is nice, I found myself having to constantly baby my armies. After eliminating an enemy, my troops would just stand around doing nothing as other enemies would move in and attack, which is another unacceptable feature in an RTS game. The A.I. of soldiers and the directions/paths they would take made no sense. For example, two platoons right next to each other would travel in two completely different paths (one usually taking an extreme detour), to march in a straight line. It would be expected that your forces would move next to each other in tandem, but this seemed to be extremely unreliable depending on the terrain. The game forces you to constantly tap and redirect your units, but with the game's inaccurate interface, Great Battles Medieval is a nightmare.
There are many specific details which would have worked in theory, but most were hardly noticeable in the midst of the many broken aspects of its gameplay and graphics. The Battle Card system may help turn the tide of battle in your favor, but this tide already made it seem like I was drowning the entire time.
The ultimate slap in the face comes in the price. For the first two weeks of its iOS debut, Great Battles Medieval will cost $4.99. Its final price of $9.99 pulls this game into a distinct area of failure that forces me to warn to my fellow gamers with the following advice: Do Not Buy.
The only reason why this did not score below a 3.0 was because of its historical accuracy and its ability to have hundreds of soldiers on screen fighting all at once. Like the wording of its title, Great Battles Medieval is completely out of order. Fallout 3 may have told me that war never changes, but Great Battles Medieval told me that some wars should be averted.
App Store Link: Great Battles Medieval for iPad | By Slitherine Ltd. | Price: $9.99 | Version: 1.00 | 331 MB | Rating 9+