Praetorians (video game)
|Praetorians PC Video Game|
|Producer(s)||Ignacio Pérez Dolset|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Praetorians is a 3D real-time tactics game developed by Pyro Studios and published by Eidos Interactive, based on Julius Caesar's campaigns in Gaul, Britain, Crassus' battles in Parthia and the events of Caesar's Civil War the player controls either the Roman Republic, the Ptolemaic Kingdom (Inaccurately represented as the New Kingdom of Egypt) or a generic Barbarian tribe based on the Helvetii, Gauls and Celts.
Unlike most Real Time Strategy titles, Praetorians focuses on Military and tactics, rather than building, or resource management. Units are trained from a garrison, which is build on a town or village which requires a garrison to be built, and a commander to be sent there.
Each civilization comes with its own unique unit pool with units that have different strengths, abilities and weaknesses. Some unit types are simply re-skinned for all the civilizations, but the variety in units offers different strategic ideas depending on which civilization the player is using. Light infantry units are generally weaker than heavy infantry units in hand-to-hand combat, and are very susceptible to arrow fire, but are the only units in the game that can act as builders. Heavy infantry units are strong in hand-to-hand combat and quite resistant to arrow fire, but generally much slower around the map, and cannot travel over watery terrain. Archer units are poor in hand-to-hand combat, especially against cavalry units, but can set fire to damage buildings and siege equipment. Spear units are generally competent in hand-to-hand combat, but are susceptible to heavier infantry units and arrow fire, and cannot travel in forests. Cavalry units are often quick, and can easily outmaneuver most troops, but they are frail, and most cavalry units cannot travel in forests.
There is also the presence of multiple types of terrain in the game. Forests can be used to hide infantry units, and to spring ambushes against troops out in the open. Watery terrain which prevents heavy infantry units from crossing. Grassy terrain which can be lit on fire, and can kill troops that cross the fire.
Members of an alliance may not attack one another, though it is still possible to attack an allied building or village belonging to an ally. In times of crisis team members can call upon each other via the message line: "We need help." Allies will normally offer spare troops in assistance. 'Praetorians' differs from other games of its genre in that resources do not play a part in it. In most real time strategy games, items such as wood, food, gold, stone and glory must be collected, to be spent during the creation of troops. The only resource you need to recruit stronger soldiers are honour points. Honour points are earned by fighting and killing enemy troops. There are also troop control points and unit control points; The former will limit the number of troops a player may have in their army, and the latter limits the number of individual soldiers and army men that can be used.
Praetorians features three gamemodes: Skirmish, Campaign, and Multiplayer:
Skirmish functions as can be chosen in which the player first chooses a difficulty level (easy, medium, or hard) then chooses up to 1 character and up to 7 AI players, controlled by Artificial Intelligence. These can be Roman, Egyptian or an anonymous barbarian tribe. Once this is completed, alliances may be created by joining two forces on the same team, whether set before the game has started, or during the game.
Players may participate as Julius Caesar commanding forces of varying sizes against various hostile tribes of barbarian, Egyptian and, nearer the end of the game, Roman origin. The Campaign consists of 4 Tutorial levels, educating the player on how to order troops around the map, initiate combat and giving hints as to how the player may best use the units at his/her disposal, and 20 Campaign missions, beginning in 59BC with Caesar fighting the Helvetii tribe, and ending in 45BC with the final battle of the Civil War. The 20 campaign missions are divided into 4 sections; each new section is preceded by a short film. Each section, including the tutorial missions are divided by the time period the missions are in. The first section involves leading Caesar's new legions to Gaul to investigate the recent surge of bandit attacks in Aeduii country. The second is the initial stage of the Gallic and focuses on Caesar's battles against the Helvetii and the Nervii. The third section continues directly from the second section, and details Caesar's invasions of Britannia and Ambiorix's revolt. The fourth section focuses both on Crassus' defeat at Carrhae and the subsequent retreat - two of the more difficult missions in the campaign - along with Vercingetorix's revolt. The final section focuses on the civil war against the Senate and the battles to aid Cleopatra in her succession dispute.
Originally, the game was designed to be played online in Multiplayer mode using GameSpy. The installer for the game includes instructions, and gives the option to install GameSpy Arcade. However, GameSpy Arcade no longer offers support for Praetorians game, since they have closed many servers.
After the Pyro Studios producer of the title, Javier Arévalo, and Eidos' Jason Walker talked about sorting out a flaw in the multiplayer game that was being exploited, an unofficial patch was released in October 2004. This helped catapult the game back up the GameSpy Arena charts.
The latest version of an unofficial extension, called MoD 4.1, became available 2004; it adds three new factions and many new maps. MoD 4.1 contains the unofficial patch to fix the multi-player game. The next official extension is called MoD 5.0 released in 2013 by Pyro Studios. It sorted out a number of flaws, decreased the hit points of some troops, updated the start screen of the game, added brand new music and sounds, presented 40 new maps for battles.
In 2008 an unofficial map editor for the PC game Praetorians comes up. The map editor is programmed in the C++ programming language and uses the OpenGL computer graphics API. In the same year, the game continued to sell well, maintaining a place in the Top 20 Budget PC Titles on ChartTrack at the time.
On May 31, 2014, GameSpy Servers were shut down, thus ending the official multiplayer for Praetorians. However it is possible to use unofficial Third-Party clients to run, and maintain servers for Praetorians.
In the United Kingdom, Praetorians sold roughly 20,000 units during the first half of 2003. Kristan Reed of GamesIndustry.biz wrote that these were "not figures that spell H.I.T." The game ultimately received a "Silver" award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. It also received a "Gold" award from the Asociación Española de Distribuidores y Editores de Software de Entretenimiento (aDeSe), for more than 40,000 sales in Spain during its first 12 months.
Reviews and awards
The game received "generally favorable reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. GamePro noted in its preview that the game is "A healthy mixture of Medieval: Total War and WarCraft". GameSpot praised the graphics, tactical depth, and AI; however, the limited camera (lacking the ability to turn 360 degrees) audio (particularly the sound effects, and voice acting) and poor multiplayer matchmaking services were criticised. IGN praised the gameplay, and strategic-focus of the game, as well as its balance, graphics and campaign.
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