Settlers 5 The Heritage Of Kings


by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 80/100

Settlers 5 The Heritage Of Kings review
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Blue Byte
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: Wencke Schuncken

Don't you just love retro games, games which you used to play when you were younger? But sometimes it is better to let the past behind and focus on the games which have been released this year. Settlers for example has a rich gaming history and part five has just been released. So you don't have to look back to previous editions, as this is the best Settlers game ever made. If you don't have any experience with the Settlers' game series, don't let it discourage you. Why don't read this review to get a good understanding of what Settlers: heritage of kings is all about!


 Settlers 5 The Heritage Of Kings female game review

Story
Once upon a time a world existed, ruled by many kings. But only King Mordred overcame them all and claimed the title King of the Old Realm. The world experienced many wars in the name of love and honor and a group of friends resisted and wanted to preserve the fundamental values of the Old Realm. One of these friends is called Dario who lived in the small village Thalgrund. He had a feeling something horrible would happen and as he didn't wanted to die, he opened the door of his little cottage and walks over to a well when he suddenly hears a scream. His feelings were right, something was going wrong and soon he found out that the army of Mordred sneaked into his mothers' village, close to his humble place. Suddenly one survivor showed up and tells Dario that his mother was badly injured during the attack. Of course Dario went straight to his mom, and before she breaths out her last breath she tells him about his uncle Helias and a horrible secret. She also gives Dario a broken artifact (orb) and orders him to find his uncle for advice. As yet, Dario does not know anything about his past or his destiny, but he is well aware that he might be facing events he will not be able to change. Parts of the small village are still being attacked by dark troops in the name of King Mordred. Due to these tragic circumstances, Dario is not able to retain himself anymore and together with the villagers who survived he goes into war in order to make an end to the injustice and to obtain all pieces of the artifact. Also a friend from Dario's youth is attending to support his old friend during the fights against the evil armies. The reason why Mordred was sending troops all over the world was to obtain the heir of the old king Keron, and that my friends is Dario!


 Settlers 5 The Heritage Of Kings female game review

Gameplay
Settlers is a world-building RTS game which means that the game is played in real-time and the player needs to make strategic decisions. Real-time means that things happen even when the player isn't doing anything. As a solo player you can choose to play the campaign mode or play one of the extra available maps. It's recommendable to start with the campaign mode as it teaches you all the game facilities and has a good learning curve. Also the story of Dario becomes clearly after winning campaign after campaign. In the beginning you start to control Dario and a couple of workers. You're main priority is to build a settlement, a small town with good economics. Therefore more workers are needed and they can be bought in your headquarter. And you're going to need them as you need wood, iron, sulphur, clay and stones and somebody has to go and get these materials. All of the materials are gathered in your inventory and can be used for building new types of industries, to improve the materials income. For example if you put four villagers to work as woodchoppers, your wood inventory increases. But you want to have a better economic wood status and therefore want to build a saw mill which requires 300 iron plus a new technology. So not only the inventory should be in an excellent state, oh no, you also have to build a university to increase your technology which also cost materials. The good thing though is the fact that as soon as you start building new facilities, new craftsmen will be drawn to your settlement. Build some nice homes and farms for them as you don't want to make them unhappy or leave your town again as these craftsmen actually pay taxes (talers). And then the circle is round as the taxes can be used to order new villagers, workers.

As soon as you have mastered a healthy economic status with lots of different facilities, enough income, good workers and upgrade possibilities it's time to focus on the enemy. But you're not going into battle on your own, that would be suicide. Let's build an army before you plan to go into battle. Needed are a barrack, archery and / or stables to form the army of your choice. As soon as the army building is ready you can order soldiers, but they are quite expensive (talers) and have hardly any experience. But you can upgrade them as well as the saw mill for example produces new enhancements for the archers and spearmen. Every building can contribute to a more upgraded soldier, but be strategic and keep an eye on your taxes and inventory income! And if you thought that these are the only factors to build a huge army, guess again as there's a population limit!

While the workers are doing a good job you can explore the environment together with some other heroes (friends) to find new resources or the hiding place of the enemy. Perhaps you find some new mines or even better a treasury. But try to keep distance from the enemy if you haven't got a good upgraded army to accompany you. Okay, the heroes which are joining you are strong and have special abilities, but in battle, every help is needed! Although you can buy workers, this is not the case with heroes. After winning the campaigns more heroes become available to join and support you. Besides the campaigns and playing the extra available maps, you also can go on-line, if you dare or have enough experience to play, battle against a real opponent.


 Settlers 5 The Heritage Of Kings female game review

Graphics
Settlers 5 is fully rendered with 3D visuals and provides a very detailed environment. The screen layout is totally not overdone and includes a mini map, character search buttons, inventory overview and the gameplay menu to select options like up-grading. The default view setting for the gamer is from top down onto the players' world. But you can zoom in with the camera to get a closer and better look at the environment, buildings and characters. Although the workers and soldiers look quite equal to each other, this is absolutely not the case with the heroes. They have been designed in a unique way and can be recognized from a distance. The environment and its elements are animated in a great way; trees sway and twist in the wind, the waves in the water crawl, the weather changes from summer to winter and its effect on nature and the reflections of characters while walking on the ice! The only problem was playing while it rained as the sky was full of water and you cannot get a clear view on the world and have to zoom in. In the campaign mode you also experience the story of the game which is visualized in drawings, comparable with "Fable", and many animations are included as well as soon as you have new goals, found a special location or if an event takes place. Last but not least; for a non RTS gamer the screenshots can be quite strange with all the coloring bars above the characters which visualize the status of a character, if he is in good or bad shape. This may look strange but absolutely necessary for a strategy game! Although I would prefer another way of visualizing it: making characters more invisible the more they suffer or let a button appear with characters who are suffering, click on it to gain control over this character.

Sound
How important is sound when the game has an excellent game play? It depends on the kind of sound. The background music is very old fashioned and is only one tune but it suits the game perfectly but hardly impresses a gamer nowadays. The same situation with the sound effects, it's a must in the game but just not impressive enough to write dozens of words about the sounds craftsmen produce while they work or put to work. What I do like are the character voices, especially the one of your master who teaches you all sorts of things and sings jingle bells as soon as the winters sets in. Also the voices make the game a more role playing game instead of a real-time strategy game. During the game, you'll see animations and the words spoken are written in subtitles as well.


 Settlers 5 The Heritage Of Kings female game review

Female Gaming Angle
One of the main characters, the heroes, who helps out Darion is a woman called Ari. She knows how to handle a bow and hunt an enemy. She grew up with outlaws but a group of knights took her away and since then she travels with these knights and tries to retrieve the belongings of the king which were stolen. She’s a strong and clever character and has the special ability to become invisible while traveling or being in battle. Another ability is the instant calling out for outlaws who can fight along Ari for a short period of time. Anyway she's a hero and is handy to sneak into the enemies' battleground without being noticed, checking out what the enemy is up to!

Conclusion
Settlers 5 is an easy to learn real-time strategy game with some role-playing elements which is enjoyable to play for many hours. The campaign mode is the most important feature to play as twenty medieval missions challenges the player to create their own realm by conquering seven amazing kingdoms and retrieving the Orb of Power. After playing the campaign mode you're ready for the real world; on-line gaming! The graphics are not outstanding, but for a RTS game quite acceptable except for the weather. The changing of the weather influences a lot of things, not only the graphics. For example your army cannot move as fast as you would on snow and lakes, rivers freezes during winter and you're able to move your army on it. But don't make the mistake I made with sending out my army over the ice while seasons were changing….yes, they all drowned! Ah well with a good settlement, a good economic structure, knowledge of the special hero's abilities you can regroup an army in no time. Settlers 5 is more based on the economics then on fighting. The ratio would be 60/ 40. I personally love to build and create new strong economics instead of battling within 5 minutes after starting the game. So yes, I enjoyed the game very much, and still do actually as the online option keeps the game going on and on and on.