E3 2002: Kohan II unveiled, impressions

We take an early look at TimeGate's fully 3D strategy sequel.

We visited with Texan developer TimeGate Studios and took an extremely early look at the developer's next project, Kohan II. Though the demo we saw had only been in production for about two and a half months, the game's 3D graphics looked surprisingly polished. Kohan II will be powered by the NetImmerse graphics engine, which has been used in games such as Prince of Persia 3D and Dark Age of Camelot, though Kohan II will be the first real-time strategy game to use the engine. From what we've seen so far, the sequel will make good use of the engine's ability to use dynamic lighting and shadows. Kohan II will have day-and-night cycles, and we saw these effects in action in a few scripted battle sequences in which infantrymen carrying torches did battle with wizards hurling bolts of fire. Kohan II will also have weather effects--though we didn't get to see any weather implemented, TimeGate intends to make sure that weather has real effects on the way the game plays. For instance, units may have lower morale if forced to march through harsh environments, such as desert or snow. Kohan II should have about five biomes--climatic conditions that will have accompanying terrain types (such as large, hilly drifts in an arctic biome). Kohan II will have 3D terrain that factors into the way the game is played--for instance, archer units on a hill will have an advantage against enemies on lower ground. Like the original game, Kohan II will have a random map generator that should help extend the replay value of the game considerably.

Kohan II will have a number of other improvements over the original game. Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns was widely praised for the way it automated unit management: Like in other real-time strategy games, players created huge armies, but they'd fall into formation and let players focus on using their armies effectively. The sequel will still let players organize their armies into companies, but it will also let players create smaller groups, or "short companies," which can be used for smaller, more tactical skirmishes. But ultimately you'll fight epic battles with huge regiments, just as in the original game. But unlike in Immortal Sovereigns, in Kohan II you'll be able to choose both a different playable race (from a total of five) and a different faction (from a total of four), each of which has unique abilities and bonuses, which should help give the game considerable replay value. The sequel will have five campaign games, which will take place after the events in the Kohan expansion pack; the ancient evil Ahriman returns to the land of the Kohan and must be defeated again. The sequel will also have all of the multiplayer modes of the original game, plus a new mode that TimeGate suggests will be completely original--we were told that it may involve some sort of character persistency. Multiplayer in Kohan II will allow up to a dozen players to play simultaneously.

Kohan II currently has no publisher, but the developer has scheduled the sequel for release at the end of next year.

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