Totally fun, if kinda shallow, game while it lasts.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Legion Arena took me by surprise. I’d never heard of the game until I was given a copy to review. For an unknown title, it was a pleasant surprise to find that while it wasn’t a great game by far, it was a pretty enjoyable and decent title to play with.
Playing a bit like Kessen on the PS2, Legion Arena puts you in the shoes of either a Roman general or later on in the campaign, as a Gallic general. Nonetheless, who ever you play as, the end result is still the same. You need to lead you side to victory. Before each battle, you’re given historical information on the battle you’ll be fighting. While I’ve never cared much for battles involved men thousands of years ago, the mini-documentaries actually are done pretty well and are entertaining enough to watch. They also server as bridge of sorts, as you go on from battle to another.
Sadly, that’s all you’ll ever do in the game. You’ll be thrust from one battle to another with only a pause in between to rebuild your troops, train new troops or upgrade your troops. Done with that and you’re back on the battlefield. After awhile though, the lack of stuff to do in the game starts to sink in. While the battles are fun and fast paced (expect them to take no more than 10 minutes max), once the battles start there is very little to be done.
See, battles in Arena take place on a square grid. The grid may be populated by open terrain or rough areas or a mix of more types. Open areas are good for cavalry and wooden areas for your skirmishers and other types. Every single unit is good at something and lame in other areas, basic strategy stuff that is. You can see the placements of enemy units on any map, so you’ll always know what you’ll be up against. A major killjoy that was for me since the element of surprise is gone. For better (or for worse) you’ll always come into battle having a relatively good knowledge of your enemies’ strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing that, it’s up to you to select what units you want to use, set them on the battlefield and then finally let loose the dogs of war. Once battle has begun, you can order your troops around but every troop type and order has a certain amount of order points needed for the order to be done. Order points depend on your general and as he gains experience, so do the amount of points he has. To refill order points, you need to wait for the meter to slowly build up. I like this way of giving orders as it kinda reflects on the chaotic nature of war in that one unit may not always know what the other is doing at any given more. Hell, if anything it makes you plan more cautiously so that you don’t needlessly waste order points only to have been ambushed and then find that you don’t have any order points to command your troops to regroup.
The graphics, while relatively basic, is serviceable and conveys nicely the chaos as troops rush headlong into each other. While I’d love for the game to have more animations, cavalry rushing through instead of standing still once they engage for instance, what is inside is fun enough to suspend your sensation of belief. The only downer to the whole game is its repetitive music. The same piece plays over and over during the battles and soon enough it gets tiresome listening to it.
That’s the main gist of the game. The relatively simple battle system is just like a more refined version of rock paper and scissors. While easy to learn, it doesn’t exactly offer much depth and tactics to get the upper hand most of the time. One doesn’t need much to see that Legion Arena is a budget title and as such it fares remarkably well. While the light strategy found here won’t win over armchair generals, those who wish their strategy games to be somewhat on the easy side, educational and entertaining will do well to check out Legion Arena.