I love old school real time strategies: build your base, train a ton of troops, leave another ton in the queue and begin the planetary massacre against a cheating, dumb AI which keeps building resource harvesting units instead of troops to defend its attacked buildings. Such games were incredibly fun, they were not at all difficult if you had the needed spare time to spend creating huge armies and they never caused you any headaches. Unfortunately, such games are no longer created because base building is “boring,” because “tactics” are important and above all, because there are already tons of such games on the store shelves.
BC Kings, an indie RTS developed by Mascot Entertainment, is set in a long-gone universe where dinosaurs still existed and lived happily alongside humans and green mutated monsters (or aliens or whatever), doesn’t seem to care about the tough competition and comes out of nowhere with some old school gameplay to prove us we can still have some classic fun in these modern days.
Unfortunately for those interested in innovation and revolutionary gameplay mechanics, the statement above means that BC Kings does not really innovate the genre. However, the game manages to mix together some nice elements and concepts – enough to make it at least intriguing, if not pleasant.
For example, the game brings sub-maps similar in concept with those in Heroes of Might and Magic and you can reach them through portals. However, the potential of such a nice implementation is not fully taken advantage of, in the end being nothing but a way of increasing the size of the map you’re playing on. Also, BC Kings brings some RPG (or rather – adventure) elements as each mission in the campaign comes with optional side-quests which add to the gameplay and manage to take away some of the monotony.
The RPG element is completed by the existence of heroes which, just like in all strategy games that have them, are some really solid units which can be upgraded with all sorts of attributes and they can even receive new weapons. Usually these upgrades come as a result of completing the aforementioned side-quests or by simply purchasing them from an in-game shop using coins which are conveniently left on the map. And since the death of a hero means “game over”, it means that they are a good addition after all, one that makes the game a bit more challenging and allows for different approaches.
Gameplay-wise, everything is kind of standard. What I’ve noticed is the fact that BC Kings lacks the option of choosing specific formations for your troops, which can become a bit of a headache: fast units will get too soon near the enemies and they’ll be destroyed, weakening your overall power and making it easier for the AI to destroy you. So you’ve got to be very careful and keep an eye on your troops all the time – even if you set the “defensive” mentality to them, since it appears that 10,000 years ago it was all about attacking.
An interesting thing, even though it ultimately becomes frustrating, is the fact that dinosaurs are randomly spawned over the map and they do tend to attack your workers (aka resource gatherers). This means that it’s a good idea to leave a few troops with them – and this makes it a bit more realistic. And probably it’s the only thing that does it.
There are four types of resources used in BC Kings: wood, stone, bone, and food and except from food (which can be gathered from mammoths you hunt down) they can all be gathered from fixed locations. They also add some extra difficulty to the game since building units and buildings generally requires the existence of huge amounts of all types of resources, further meaning that you can rarely perform rushed attacks over your enemy.
The troops in the game are standard for any RTS: workers, melee, ranged and mounted units with a bit of variation from flying units, ones which can use magic and ships. The way units work seems to be: “strongest one wins,” instead of the classic “rock, paper, scissors” which means that generally building your strongest type of unit in huge quantities should be enough for you to eventually crush the mutated enemies.
BC Kings also brings a lot of humor into play (or at least tries to) and that’s a welcomed addition to the genre – you’ll have to go to Hell in one mission (literally) and you’ll always have funny dialogs in the cutscenes. After all, even the units design is pretty amusing, but I don’t know if that was intended or not…
The visuals of the game are outdated. The level of detail is pretty low, the environments are repetitive and even troops look alike. Actually, the entire game simply looks like an improved Warcraft title. And that should say it all! Also, the comparison with Blizzards title stays when it comes to the voice acting: even though there are obviously no similar lines, from the second I’ve heard the units talk I thought “Warcraft” and got a cool nostalgic feeling.
BC Kings is not a poor game but it does not stand out from the crowd either. The chances are that if you enjoyed Warcraft or if you like old school real time strategies, you will also find Mascot’s game entertaining – and the fact that is cheap is an added bonus. However, if you’re looking for innovation, eye candy visuals, complex gameplay mechanics and a less casual title, you should look elsewhere.
Confused? Learn more about our rating system!