E3 2002: Celtic Kings impressions

Strategy First shows off its massive real-time strategy game.


Strategy First has teamed up with Bulgarian developer Haemimont Multimedia to release Celtic Kings: Rage of War. Celtic Kings is a real-time strategy game set during Caesar's invasion of Gaul. If nothing else, the game is huge, both in its scope and in its playing fields.

The most striking thing about the game was the maps. The battlefields are huge (up to 32,000x32,000 pixels), and it took a fairly long time to simply scroll from one edge to the next. Strategy First is claiming that the game will support up to 3,000 units per battle. The enormous maps and large armies should add up to an epic game.

And the developers are definitely hoping it will be epic. There are two modes of play: "strategic" and "adventure." The former is a straightforward build-and-conquer scenario, and the latter is more interesting. You will have control of heroes who lead your troops, and it's somewhat similar to Warcraft III in this respect. Your heroes (as well as your units) will gain experience and skill as they progress. Artifacts can be found and will boost your hero's abilities when equipped.

The use of heroes differs slightly from Warcraft III. Heroes actually perform as leaders, and assigning a group of units to a hero will allow you to simply give orders to that hero; the troops following him will act accordingly.

There are only two resources in the game: gold and food. Gold is generated by your population in the form of taxes. There is no base building in Celtic Kings: Your starting town is built for you, and you can expand only by conquering nearby villages. Conquering villages will allow you to send tributes of gold or food to other outposts under your control, and your ability to keep your army well-supplied will be very important.

Food is used to feed your troops, and troops that spend too long in the field will starve. They won't die, but they will be significantly weaker in terms of hit points and abilities. To help keep your troops well-fed, pack mules are available to accompany your troops on long campaigns.

The game tells the story of a Roman invasion of Gaul and will be told entirely through in-game events and dialogue. You can choose to play as either Caesar's side or the Gaul chieftain Vercingetorix. Celtic Kings looks to be an interesting take on the traditional real-time strategy game, especially because of its attempt to combine narrative-heavy gameplay with such massive maps and armies. We'll look forward to seeing how well it comes together when the game is released this July.

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