One of the many good things about the recently released computer game Field of Glory II – Rise Of Rome is that it covers so much more than just the Romans and their enemies. Right now I’m fighting an Indian civil war campaign against the game’s challenging AI, which boasts a total of six difficulty levels.
I’m fielding a classical Indian army against Mountain Indian opponents. Think lots and lots of elephants, heavy and light chariots, field artillery, and swarms of massed bowmen. The army is bulked out with massed javelin infantry, light archers and horse archers, and some horribly ineffective cavalry (at least, they’re ineffective the way I use them).
For this game, designer Richard Bodley Scott has gone for a completely different approach to campaigns from the one used in his earlier releases Pike & Shot and Sengoku Jidai. Instead of map movement, the player faces a series of linked challenges which can throw up different types of engagement. Although most battles are standard head-on confrontations, from time to time you may find yourself protecting a baggage train in a forested region, or facing an enemy rearguard with your reserve troops.
The game keeps track of casualties and reinforcements, while you have to regularly detach troops for garrison duty, thereby depleting your field army as the war progresses. You can choose to stick to one difficulty level throughout the campaign, or you can opt instead for a gradual increase in difficulty, which will allocate more troops to your computer opponent. As your army gains battlefield experience your troops gain in elan, so that by the final cataclysmic confrontation – if you get that far – you may be fielding an army of tough veterans, but face a much larger enemy force.
There are a number of very good pre-loaded campaigns that come with FoG II, enabling you to relive the careers of Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Pyrrhus of Epiros, and Mithridates of Pontus. But the ‘sandbox’ option gives you the ability to play out a campaign with any of the armies included in the current release. And the first of what will doubtless be many user-generated custom campaigns have already been produced, in the shape of Paul59’s Antiochus the Great campaign and DasTactic’s Euteubor Campaign (Graeco-Bactrians vs all of their neighbours).
The scope for such campaigns is immense. There are a total of 48 nations and factions in the base game under the following broad headings – Romans, Hellenistic Kingdoms, Carthaginians, Syracuse, Spanish, Numidians and Moors, Celts, Illyrians, Thracians, Spartacus, Jewish Kingdoms, Skythians/Saka, Sarmatians, Parthia, Armenia and (of course) Indians. Within these categories there are further choices to be made. For instance, the Hellenistic Kingdoms allow you to play Macedonians, Indo-Parthians, Western Greeks, Seleucids (in four different flavours) and so on. There’s no shortage of options to maintain interest, which makes for great replayability value.
The AI is a huge step forward compared to the original Field of Glory computer game, providing a viable (and at times quite unforgiving) opponent. Gone too are the quirky OTT combat results and the frequent sight of your (or your opponent’s) units breaking formation to randomly charge an approaching enemy. The graphics have improved too, whilst retaining something of the ‘toy soldier’ feel of the original game.
Anyhow, must dash. My howdah has been re-upholstered, Nellie is getting restless, and the next battlefield awaits my tattered but proud Indian army…