Conquer Medieval Europe on PS4 in This Civilization-Esque Strategy Game

Historical strategy fiction.

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In Grand Ages: Medieval, European cities are where they should be, and borders align according to the history books. From there, things can go in your favor, or against your plan.

There aren't many strategy games on the PS4, especially those like Grand Ages: Medieval. For better or worse, developer Gaming Minds is bringing expansive menus and in-depth economy systems to Sony's console, despite their traditional--and better suited--home on PC.

As in the developer's previous games--Rise of Venice and Port Royale 3--trading plays a major part in creating a sprawling empire. After growing crops, crafting construction materials, and collecting commodities, you can send traders to other cities in your network to ensure that your revenue outweighs your costs. The thing is, monitoring all of these resources means sifting through detailed menus, and this doesn't transfer well to console controls. I spent most of my time with the PS4 version scrolling through disparate resources, and that left little time to attend to other matters.

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Say you want to take a militaristic approach. You can "win" a free-play round of Medieval: Grand Ages by conquering at least one-fifth of Europe. But it doesn't force you to end the playthrough there, and you're free to continue expanding your empire as you see fit, by trade and militaristic pursuits. The conquest systems themselves are simplified, and once your soldiers engage the enemy in battle, a real-time skirmish plays out. The only indication as to the state of your army is an ever-decreasing population count. Attacking cities is also simplified, with a siege meter indicating how close you are to forcing a surrender.

Creating your military functions much like it does in any other game of this kind, by accumulating the right resources and training new types of troops. But on PS4, training new units means cycling through radial dials that can be a slog to navigate with the DualShock 4 analog sticks.

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But there's still the novelty of establishing--and conquering--real European cities, and morphing history to your own whims. Laying siege to Arianople, only to lose Thessaloniki in the turmoil, imparts a sense of history that drives my emperor's narrative along, whether it was a part of my plan or not.

I'm curious as to whether Grand Ages: Medieval will adapt to consoles well enough to remove the control barrier I experienced during my hands-on demo. Spreading my tendrils over a miniature Medieval Europe is its own unique strategy experience, but Grand Ages: Medieval on PC may be my version of choice for future playthroughs.

Mike Mahardy on Google+

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