LOS ANGELES--One of the titles we were most impressed with at 1C's booth this year was Battle Lord, a previously unknown title that seems likely to fly under some radars until its release in 2007. The game is a mixture of real-time adventuring and turn-based combat; imagine a Heroes of Might and Magic game where you move around the map in real time, and you're well on your way to envisioning Battle Lord in action. Apparently, the game is in development by the same company that made Space Rangers II, the well-received space strategy game.
The scant storyline details we have on Battle Lord at the moment aren't necessarily captivating: currently we're being promised a storyline that revolves around "fearless knights, evil mages, wise kings, and beautiful princesses," so you can expect some familiar elements. 1C didn't go into detail on the storyline, instead choosing to focus on showing off the gameplay, but that was fine with us, because it does look promising.
The overworld adventuring in Battle Lord is done in real time, as mentioned, which restricts you to a single hero unit and his or her army. You'll be able to choose the class of your hero as being either a knight, paladin, or mage, and each of which will have its own unique gameplay style. The adventuring here doesn't look all that complicated, but it does have a slick, beautiful graphical style that mirrors the colorful look of the recent Heroes of Might & Magic V demo. Everything is nicely rendered and fully zoomable, letting you scout out your surroundings before you make your moves. Enemies are obviously visible on the main map, allowing you to try and avoid them if you wish, but the map's resource points and treasure spots are usually guarded by stationary enemies, so you'll have to face them if you want to obtain more stuff for your army.
The battle system should be familiar to fans of Heroes of Might and Magic. Like those games' battles, Battle Lord's battles take place on small grids and play out in turn-based modes. There are some new inclusions to set Battle Lord apart from the competition, though, including a neat Rage Magic system, which lets you select one extremely powerful magical effect to cast once per battle. We saw one of these that involved summoning a huge magical golem that flew up into the air, turned itself into a sword, then plunged back down to earth, piercing right through an enemy stack and killing it instantly.
Another new feature involves the inclusion of treasure chests directly on the battlefield, which yield treasure if you manage to open them before the battle ends. Most turn-based combat systems reward you for holding your troops back and waiting for your enemies to come to you, and the treasure system is designed to encourage people to be a bit more aggressive in the turn-based combat system.
Battle Lord is looking like it'll be a good mixture of HOMM-style combat and action RPG-style overworld adventuring, which honestly sounds like a mixture with a good amount of potential. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information as we come across it.