Besieger Impressions

You will need to lay siege to elaborate defenses to succeed in this fantasy-based real-time strategy game.

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One of the great moments in real-time strategy gaming comes during Microsoft's Age of Empires II when you manage to build a massive wall to protect your town from marauders. You feel pretty safe behind these walls, and your peasants can finally work in peace while attackers bash themselves against your defenses outside. This idea--the building up and tearing down of fortresses--is one that's at the heart of Besieger, an upcoming real-time strategy game from Russian developer Primal Interactive.

Your troops will man the walls when the enemy has you under siege.
Your troops will man the walls when the enemy has you under siege.

Besieger is set in a fantasy world where the Vikings and Cimmerians live in peaceful coexistence. But one day, Mara, the sister of Korin (the Cimmerian king), usurps the throne and launches a war against the Vikings. The game starts off with you playing as the Vikings, but it eventually lets you play both sides in the conflict. While the Vikings and Cimmerians are drawn from history, the game includes some fantasy elements, such as ogres and other magical creatures.

As a real-time strategy game, the mechanics should feel familiar to veterans of the genre. You'll gather resources and construct a base, though Besieger will streamline some of these activities. For example, when you build a house, it will automatically produce the maximum number of workers that it can support. These workers will harvest the nearest resource automatically, thus letting you focus more on combat. There are three kinds of resources in the game: wood, stone, and ore.

In Besieger, you'll need to build fortresses and walls to defend your territory. Likewise, you'll have to deal with enemy defenses when you're on the offensive. When besieging an enemy fortress, you can bring up siege weapons, including trebuchets and siege towers. However, sometimes it will be easier to just go around an obstacle. In this case, the Vikings can use their flying longboats as troop carriers to deposit units on the other side of a defensive strong point.

In addition to building an army, you'll be able to recruit various heroes to lead your forces into battle. These heroes have special abilities that can be valuable to an army. A skilled healer, for example, can boost the hardiness of an army. Each hero has a radius around him or her, and any units within this radius reap the benefits of the hero's abilities. Primal Interactive promises unique heroes, including Barmalay the Viking and Korin the Cimmerian king. Your army will also explore the countryside on quests. These quests may range from wiping out a clan of hostile orcs to rescuing a village that's under attack. Furthermore, you'll encounter plenty of wild animals and magical creatures, so you'll need to wipe out their lairs and nests to keep them from coming back.

You'll need besieging equipment to take this fortress.
You'll need besieging equipment to take this fortress.

Besieger uses a modified version of the graphics engine used for I of the Dragon, an action role-playing game that Primal Interactive is also developing. This 3D engine is capable of rendering huge levels, complete with deforming terrain--which means the ground can literally change shape and form. The environment in the game is completely destructible, and everything from trees and buildings can be wiped out. There's also a day-and-night cycle as well as weather effects.

There are more than 40 different buildings and 20 different unit types in the game. Besieger will have multiplayer support for up 16 people, with modes such as deathmatch, capture the flag, cooperative, and king of the hill. Publisher DreamCatcher Interactive is busy localizing the game for North America, and the US version is expected to ship this spring.

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