|Release date(s)||November 7, 2001 (US)|
Battle Realms, released by Ubisoft in 2001, is an oriental themed real-time strategy computer game and is the first game created by Liquid Entertainment. Ubisoft released the expansion pack Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf in 2002.
Battle Realms follows the basic formula for many real-time strategy games. All of its factions have similar buildings with similar uses and workers. However, unlike in most real-time strategy games, the peasant worker unit is not just used for resource gathering and construction, but also for training into military units. Thus, military buildings in Battle Realms are not used for making units, but for transforming and upgrading them.
Peasants gather the two resources in the game: rice and water. They also round up horses, which can be used to enhance military units in the game and can be outfitted as pack horses for peasants. Only one type of builder unit is required.
Peasants are the only units the player can produce outright. Most of the buildings available are training structures where peasants are trained into numerous other units. All the factions start off with three basic central training structures, which produce units along different paths of warfare, such as melee or ranged combat. In most cases, units can be trained at up to three structures to produce higher tiers of infantry.
Another difference in unit generation is that peasants are produced automatically, at no cost. However, the rate at which new peasants are produced is inversely proportional to the current population of the player's army.
Certain buildings can teach special techniques, or Battle Gears (commonly abbreviated to BGs), to units to improve their combat ability for a certain resource cost. This can allow units to defeat higher tier units they would normally struggle with or be defeated by. BGs also allow the player to further define the role a unit will play in a combat situation, such as damage absorption, building destruction, or reconnaissance.
One of the key elements of Battle Realms is the Yin/Yang system. Each army obtains points of Yin or Yang when in combat, depending on their moral alliance to the forces of light or darkness. The Battle Realms hero units, or Zen Masters, require Yin/Yang to be summoned and to improve their damage. Yin and Yang are also used at structures in the faction's base for military upgrades. The rate of Yin/Yang growth depends on the military strength and flair of the army and how far they are from the main base.
There are four available factions, called clans in Battle Realms, and each have a different philosophy towards life and combat:
- The Dragon clan is a race of warriors who favor honorable and valorous combat.
- The Serpent clan is a renegade offshoot of the Dragon clan which uses stealth, trickery and brutality to further its goals. Unlike their predecessors, they have mastered weapons technology to a certain extent (especially gunpowder) and has also dabbled into Necromancy.
- The Lotus clan is an ancient group of sorcerers that delves deeply into the corrupting aspects of magic.
- The Wolf clan is a race of formerly enslaved miners. Their clan members live basic, healthy lives, and their culture emphasized strong ties to nature. Their former enslavement allowed them to develop armor made from the shale they used to mine.
Unlike in most strategy games, all units in Battle Realms have a melee attack. However, missile units typically have drastically weaker melee attacks. Units are very detailed and have distinct fighting animations. Units can dodge projectiles if they run fast enough, and projectiles have different speeds and fire at certain angles.
A unit's attack has a property - either cutting, piercing, blunt, explosive, magic, or fire, as well as a bonus damage against buildings. The property of a unit's missile attack may also differ from its melee attack. Most units have resistances to particular properties, and weaknesses to others. For example, the Dragon Samurai has excellent resistance against cutting attacks, but a poor resistance to explosive and magic damage.
In singleplayer, the plot mainly revolves around Kenji, last heir to the Serpent's Throne. When he returns from exile, Kenji comes across bandits raiding a peasant village. He can choose to either kill the bandits and save the peasants, or he can side with the bandits and kill the peasants. If he chooses to save the peasants, he will follow the path of the Dragon clan. If he aids the bandits, he will follow the path of the Serpent clan.
In Kenji's Journey, the player may choose which territories he or she wishes to attack first. (Otomo, his lieutenant, gives you the options.) Kenji returns from Malcomson. He must decide whether to rebirth the Dragon Clan and save the peasants honor with righteousness or take up reigns in his brother and his father, Lord Oja's footsteps, and lead the Serpent Clan. Taking specific territories might give benefits, and other Zen Masters may join Kenji. Later on, the player can summon these Zen Masters from the Keep. The story focuses on an artifact Called Tarrant's Orb/Orb of the Serpent which Kenji, the NPC Clans, and The Wolf and Lotus Clans are seeking out. Kenji must get to the Orb before them.
There are four clans in the game: Dragon Clan, Serpent Clan, Wolf Clan, and Lotus Clan, each with their own motivations. The ancient Dragon Clan prizes honor above everything else. Due to their devotion to honor, the Dragon deity assists them during times of great peril. The Serpent Clan have forgotten their honorable ways and have resorted to thievery and deceit. Serpent clansmen are Yin followers. Wolf Clansmen prizes freedom above all else. Wolf Clansmen are down to earth, hardworking people, and take a delight in nature. Lotus clansmen follow the Forbidden Path, which focuses on death and decay.
Igromania magazine gave the game a 9.0/10 review calling it an "ideal contemporary real-time strategy". The reviewer noted good gameplay and praised the graphics and animations, however said the game did not deviate much from traditional RTSes and the AI did not stand out.