Haemimont Games has done an admirable job of bringing together two different types of games.
Diablo meets Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns in Celtic Kings: Rage of War, one of the more entertaining cross-genre games to hit the PC in some time. Bulgarian developer Haemimont Games--best known for its work on Tzar: The Burden of the Crown two years ago--has crafted a title that gives players some of the best elements of both worlds. Neither role-playing nor real-time strategy fans will feel shortchanged here, which is remarkable when you consider how hybrids of this sort typically adopt a jack-of-all-games approach that leaves them master of none.
You might even say that Celtic Kings is the first true RPG-RTS hybrid. The game has all the qualifications in both categories. Dual modes of play are featured--one emphasizing a hack-and-slash role-playing style, the other focusing on the base-building and resource management common to real-time strategy. But each prominently features aspects of its counterpart so that both transcend the limitations of their particular genres. The separate elements are blended together so seamlessly that it's difficult to understand why successfully implementing this concept has eluded developers in the past.
Adventure mode, the more role-playing-focused mode, is a solo, story-driven saga set during the Roman conquest of Gaul. You play as Larax, a Gallic tribesman who pledges his life to the war goddess Kathobodua after Teuton raiders destroy his village and kill his wife. It begins much like a traditional isometric RPG, with Larax carrying out solo quests that take him closer to his goal of exacting revenge on the Teutons. Larax himself is modeled much like a typical role-playing character, in that he collects experience points and gains levels.
But things soon begin to shift. Although Larax starts off as a lone hero, he soon encounters his fellow tribesmen. These horsemen, axemen, swordsmen, and archers can be formed into a small army under Larax's command that benefits from his skills as a hero. Not long after you begin to collect troops, the quests become more appropriate to a real-time strategy game. Instead of fighting a few enemies and getting advice from tribal leaders, you're besieging fortresses and sacking villages. You can arrange your troops into formations, split them off to build the catapults required for smashing enemy fortifications, and so forth. The game does have tactical elements, though they aren't very deep. You occasionally join forces with other heroes, for example, and must perform flanking and feinting maneuvers in order to break through enemy defenses. Barreling forward en masse is not an option, even in the early stages of the campaign. Resource management is also an issue. Food must be sent from villages to military outposts, and peasants must be called in whenever you want to raise troops for an army. Gold is collected and transported in much the same way.