Plotting for World Domination: March of the Eagles Review for PC
Can’t get enough of world domination? Tired of begging people to play Risk or Diplomacy with you, and want a new challenge? Paradox Interactive has recently released a grand-strategy war game entitled March of the Eagles, and it may just be right up your alley. The game is set during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. When you open the game, you’ll be launched right into it – they aren’t messing around with silly re-enactments or flashy signs here. Once you create a login, you’ll be taken to the Main Menu and asked to select if you want to play a Single Player, Multiplayer, or view the Tutorial.
Players can choose to play any country involved, big or small, in an attempt to thwart their adversaries. You will use your resources to build a large army, form alliances or declare war on other countries in order to gain diplomatic power over all the lands. The goal is to win as one nation and dominate by land and sea. Players who are unfamiliar with games of this nature should go through the Tutorial first before attempting to get into the game, as there will be multiple menu options, map views, and game tactics that you can get completely lost in. As well, the game is time-sensitive, so pausing and timing your moves is key. The Tutorial will walk you through every aspect of the game, even forcing you to conquer a province before you can complete the Tutorial, so they’re sure you’ve got the base mechanics down pat. Thankfully, though there is a lot of detail to pay attention to even after the Tutorial is complete, every option in-game has a Hints button to help you figure out what it does (in case you forget).
The dominant nations in this game are: Austrian Empire, Great Britain, France, Ottoman Empire, Prussia, Russian Empire, Spain, and Sweden. These are the nations you want to play if you want your specific nation to be declared the dominant power when you win, instead of just playing a country that helps someone else win – as the many smaller nations available in game will not have enough power to do so. If you choose to play the game as a smaller nation, like Bavaria or the Netherlands, you will not be able to conquer as the reigning power. The way to win as a smaller country is teaming up with a dominant nation, then assisting them in conquering the other nations as best you can. If you choose a major country like France, for example, you will use your resources combined with smaller nations to win the war – though diplomacy will not be as necessary playing as France as it would for a smaller nation. If you were hoping to be that little nation who swoops in and steals the power from underneath your opponents’ noses, you can forget about it – this game and all the involved parties involved with the war will simply overpower you; choosing a small nation means you must depend on a dominant country for your success.
The map is completely interactive, with multiple menus accessible via the top left or bottom right corner of your screen. You can also pause the game while you plot out your moves, as you only have 15 years (in game time) to complete the game. The different menus will help you control your military, development, economics, and diplomacy. When it comes to actually battling your enemy, you will have to move your armies towards their territory, and even load them into ships if you are attacking (or defending) overseas. When reaching an enemy, you will automatically attack them and either be driven back or take over the territory if victorious. From there, you have to appeal to the conquered people through more warfare, and hope that you also win the fight against their riots. While the above mechanics can get very complex as you progress, they are on par with similar games in the genre.
Idea Points in March of the Eagles can be earned fighting in battles (win or lose), and can be used to study Ideas like Naval Movement, Artillery, or even Production. This will help assist you in many ways, and can give you a leg-up on the competition. You should also be aware that losing battles in this game is actually beneficial, as you gain more Idea Points by losing a battle, which can then be applied to make you harder to defeat moving forward. This helps slightly balance the game as you progress, and if you are playing as a big nation, the AI (or players in multiplayer) will gain more Idea Points themselves, and effectively make them harder and harder for you to beat. On the flipside, you need to make sure you aren’t losing every battle, as it affects many different aspects of the game including supplies, recruiting, and more. For instance, it takes resources to build armies. If you keep dying, you lose armies and waste resources; then you can’t recruit more armies because you keep dying and wasting your resources. If you lose too many battles too quickly, you won’t have the Manpower or Resources to replenish your troops and send them out to the front lines – which will lose you the game.
Players will notice that, while there are a lot of wonderful aspects to the game, there are a lot of resources and troops you either won’t use or want to use. Most buildings which can give you an advantage in the game (like a Fort), are very expensive, and by the time you have enough money to build them (in most countries) the game is already over. Keep in mind this game only lasts 15 years. If a building costs two or three years’ worth of income for the country, unless you are already dominating, it is of little benefit to you. On the flips side, if you are losing the war, the buildings themselves will be of little advantage as more armies would be much more helpful. The armies as well are very convoluted – with pages and pages of troops you can build, all with different statistics that may only be one or two points off of each other.
While the gameplay is fun, you’ll soon come to notice that the AI does not adapt as dynamically as you would hope. It would be nice to be the underdog and weasel your way to victory – or not immediately know (based on history) who you’ll need to side with to win the game. The predictable nature of the game in single player mode will leave many gamers wanting more. Where this game improves itself and becomes more unpredictable is in the Multiplayer. Instead of beating statistics, you’re making alliances and declaring war on real people – who may or may not decide to change their minds last minute, and throw you under the ship along with all your soldiers, power, and dominance. You’ll also find yourself making more emotional choices when being stabbed in the back by real players – a tactic that elevates the game to a whole new level of play. You’ll notice the servers have multiple connection problems, which can be very frustrating when you are playing a live game with real people and the connection drops players in the middle of battle. In spite of this, the multiplayer itself is an addictive, fast-paced game that will either leave you cursing at the computer screen or doing a happy dance in the middle of your living room at three in the morning. It is the kind of addition to a game like this that makes it more appealing, and may leave you spending hours of your life fighting for power.
Graphically, March of the Eagles is displayed like a board game with menus. It’s straightforward and clear of clutter, only using a few animations like sailing ships or moving armies. The map layout can be customized as well, adding an easier option for those who want to clearly see the information about the countries that surround them. The map itself changes colours based on the kind of views you want, like Political Map Mode, or Diplomatic Map Mode. There are multiple modes that will help you strategize, and change colours to indicate different relationships, armies, supplies, power struggles, and more. It’s a unique way to add flair to what would otherwise be a drab environment. There is one thing you will notice with the graphics: your units will sometimes glitch or lag out when moving from one space to another, and many of the menus won’t move easily out of your way for you to plot your next move. You’ll have to work around some of the menus while they are up, or open and close them continuously, just to make a simple strategy for your next turn, if you want to play and see the board at the same time. As you move along, the more complex your strategy gets, which makes for a multitude of increasingly annoying windows that you’ll need when plotting your routes, which can distract from the aesthetic appeal of the game as well.
Depending on what you’re doing, the music will adapt to the scenario, playing slow, flute-based classical melodies when you are at peacetime, and erupting into big, low, brass and drum heavy classical numbers in a fight. The volume and the type of music changes as your situation does in the game, creating a better flow. If you were expecting large voices booming orders or a cinematic with voice actors, this is the wrong game for you. It is simple and does not add any sound effects or voices to distract you while you take over the world.
When you take a look at the world around you, March of the Eagles is a fun playthrough, with a great Multiplayer option, and a clean look that will help newcomers adapt to the very detailed and intense grand-strategy war game genre. There are a few setbacks and glitches, but overall you’ll enjoy creating tactics and guiding your country to victory in this political whirlwind of a game.
March of the Eagles receives a 4.0/5.0
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