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Bladestorm: Nightmare

Score: 82%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Developer: Omega Force
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Bladestorm: Nightmare is an updated release of Bladestorm: The Hundred Yearsí War, a 2007 spin-off game from the Warriors series (or if it isnít a true spin-off, it definitely feels like one), similar to Warriors: Legends of Troy. It is set in the 14th-15th centuries, during the Hundred Years' War. Players can choose to fight on whichever side they want, whenever they want.

Unlike the Warriors games where you are mostly playing as famous historical characters, in Bladestorm: Nightmare you will need to create a character to play the game. Itís pretty customizable with over 100 hair styles for both male and female characters, complete control over face shape and features, and body size. You can even have two different color eyes. I do wish there was a color scale rather than having a selection of 10 or so colors for most things to choose from, but otherwise I was quite happy with my character creation. The NPCs are a bit generic, as they are in most of these games, but you really donít pay much attention to them anyway. The landscape is beautiful. They really put some work into giving the land a natural rise and fall, rather than just flat terrain.

You can also choose from a few different voices for your character and you can change the pitch. You can choose to set all of the system voices in Japanese or English. I do love that there is an English dub so that the on-screen text doesnít block up the screen when I am in the middle of battle. You will have on-screen text for things like Level Up! and a combo counter when you hit 50, 100, etc. I did find that if you kill really quickly, these counters will be lagged a bit as they are still trying to display the last number and you just surpassed it.


Gameplay:

When you start up Bladestorm: Nightmare, you have the option of Story Mode, Free Mode, Edit Mode, Gallery, and Options. Gallery is just going to show you the still images that you unlock as you play and Options will let you change up the game settings. Free Mode will simply let you replay scenarios that you have unlocked in Story Mode. Story Mode is where I like to spend time. Once you start a new game, you can choose to play either the Hundred Yearsí War, which is relatively historically accurate, or Nightmare, which is pure fantasy using the historical characters (like the Warriors Orochi series). Nightmare is a feature new to this release.

When you start up the Hundred Yearsí War, you will be playing as a mercenary. Starting out in a tavern, you can choose which side to fight for when you take a Contract. The tavern also provides other useful information when you choose Status. You can see your squad, resources, and inventory. Merchant lets you trade items and Recruits is where you would hire your squads. Gossip basically lets you chat with others in the tavern and this information can be handy sometimes. System is where you go to save your game and play around with the settings. Your Fame Level will be displayed in the top right corner. The whole point is to try and get as famous as possible, so you want to increase that level by killing enemies and taking bases. When you decide to play the Nightmare scenario, you really wouldnít want to contract out to the demons, so you are given the contracts to take. Rather than become famous, you want to eliminate the demon hordes. To do both of these tasks, you will have to learn how to lead squads of soldiers and work with other squads.

Edit Mode is a bit different. Here, you can edit your custom characters, of course, but you can also do a few more things with them. You can choose to station your mercenaries at different battlefields and each battlefield has an amount associated with it. This is your contract amount that you can get paid to station your mercenary there and this is a quick way to earn some money. You can also check out other mercenaries that you have met in battle. These are other peopleís characters from online.


Difficulty:

When you start up any game, you will be given the choice of Easy, Normal, and Hard. I do recommend starting on Easy, just to get the hang of the controls. There are a whole lot of controls to learn and a lot of different things that you will need to know how to do. There is a lot more strategy in Bladestorm: Nightmare than in any of the other Warrior games that I have played. While you are in the field, defeating enemies will level you up. You will also earn Skill Points that let you level up Books. Books are basically your squadís knowledge, so leveling them up makes your squad stronger. Also, you can only lead squads whose books you have. This does make sense as you canít really lead troops when you donít know how they fight.

For me, the most difficult thing was getting used to commanding troops to fight instead of just being a lone wolf and running where I wanted. You have to learn how to switch units to get done what you need to and thatís not an easy task. I especially had difficulty getting the archers to aim where I wanted. I tried to avoid commanding them as I usually ended up just making things worse when I tried. I think that I like doing the fighting more myself than commanding others to fight for me.


Game Mechanics:

In Bladestorm: Nightmare, instead of just fighting alone, you will be leading squads that will fight beside you. (X) lets you take command of a squad and you also use (X) to switch to another squad. If you switch to a mounted unit, you will automatically find yourself on a horse as well. (R1) commands your troops to do a normal attack. (Triangle), (O), and (Square) are different fighting moves, based on the weapon that you chose to use. When you are with a squad, they will be your squad actions. Everyone will attack as you command. You also have to worry about your squadís morale. You donít want to let it get low. If you can get it high enough, your squad will enter Zeal, which makes them a lot more powerful. You have different types of squads, so make sure to get to know them all well. The D-pad will let you switch characters if you are working with another squad leader. These are just the major ones that I used a lot. As I mentioned before, there are a lot of controls to learn to use.

Personally, I did not enjoy Bladestorm: Nightmare as much as I thought I would. I kept getting frustrated because I wanted to just leave the troops and kill things myself. That is purely a personal preference though and not to be held against the game. Bladestorm: Nightmare gives you all the elements you need to truly strategize so that you can win the war for your side (whichever one hired you). If you are looking for a strategy game that puts you in command of troops so that you direct all of the action, check out Bladestorm: Nightmare as it is right up your alley.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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