The original Company of Heroes was one of my all-time favorite real-time strategy games. The ability to micro-manage smaller groups of units, and engage in tactical battles across sprawling maps was a perfect combination. Unfortunately, its sequel more or less sucked.
Ever since those hallowed days of yore, when we strategy gamers were inundated by multitudes of great RTS titles, things have sort of dried up. Throughout the years gaming companies pumped out sequel after tired sequel, along with a few highly unoriginal RTS titles that were too sped up. Things kept being sped up faster and faster until we saw the dawn of the modern MOBA genre. At that point I wondered if we’d ever see any good RTS games again.
I’d also long wondered what it would be like if someone had developed a Company of Heroes type game, but set in a different time. The first Dawn of War (the only good one in my opinion) answered that question as far as futurism goes, but how about something set back in time, before World War 2?
Well, Destructive Creations seems to have been listening because they’ve just released what amounts to a Dark Ages version of Conpany of Heroes. The question is, does this new game, titled Ancestors: Legacy, carry that mantle well? And does it do enough to differentiate itself from its obvious inspirations?
Just as in COH, the name of the game in Ancestors: Legacy is to produce small squads of troops (no more than ten men per squad) and send them forth in order to capture territorial objectives which are scattered across each map. Basically this boils down to invading towns and villages and setting everything on fire. Once you’ve conquered an objective you are rewarded with a boost to your overall production capabilities so that you can produce more units. Sound familiar?
However, instead of utilizing cover and suppression, in Ancestors: Legacy you have to use careful positioning, proper formations, and the shrewd manipulation of flanking. Many of my multiplayer games have resulted in many back and forth battles between small squads as we jockeyed for position, performed hit and run assaults on each other’s villages, and constantly changed formations on the fly to counter whatever we threw at each other. The conflicts that arise in Ancestors: Legacy can be so gripping that I felt my temples throbbing with adrenaline on more than one occasion.
There is also a full day to night cycle in effect, which can change each unit’s line of sight depending on what time of the day it is. The terrain can also play a pivotal role—you can hide behind buildings, crouch down in tall grass, and the like. There’s nothing like creeping up through foliage on your foes and then yell screaming out of the bushes and taking them by surprise.
You can also set some pretty devious traps for your enemies to stumble into. Again, positioning is everything here so if you’re used to rushing people all of the time that won’t work against someone who is good at laying traps and then luring you back into them. The traps themselves can obliterate most of the men in a single squad so they’re quite useful.
With all of these inticate elements Ancestors: Legacy handles everything quite well, and you’ll be able to receive charge bonuses, utilize special abilities, and play with buffs and debuffs as the various situations call for them. There is also an experience system in Ancestors: Legacy which allow you to upgrade each of your units to suit your playstyle. As in games of similar ilk, high veterancy units can be quite devastating on the battlefield.
There are a couple of drawbacks that need to be mentioned. The general movement speed is rather breakneck and the game’s pacing may be a little spastic for some. The archer units also fire their arrows at hyper-speed, with several volleys fired in as many seconds. If you’re used to the more realistic pace of arrows slicing through the sky and forming showers of death above your foes as in the various Total War series titles, the ones here almost seem like spontaneous laser beams.
Villages are also a little too easy to capture. You can literally rush a couple of units into an unsuspecting village and have it burned to the ground in mere seconds. This factor resulted in me constantly visiting and re-visiting capture points many times within short periods of time, and caused a sort of rubber-banding effect because my troops kept sprinting back and forth. Ancestors: Legacy could really benefit be a more measured pacing which would make its great strategic concepts much more useful (and easier to manage).
Overall, Ancestors: Legacy is a great throwback to the great RTS titles of old. It has a fast pace that some gamers might enjoy, but its wide range of strategic options is what really shine and make it stand out in a rather stale genre. I hope to see more factions and unit types added in the future.
Ancestors: Legacy features outstanding graphics that make its RTS gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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