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Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns Review

publisher: Strategy First
developer: TimeGate Studios
genre: Strategy

PII-300, 64MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 1024x768 16MB video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Mar 14, 01
» All About Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns on ActionTrip

April 06, 2001
Branislav "Bane" Babovic

After some time behind the scenes, the new fantasy cookie from Strategy First and the Timegate studios appeared on the market without too much a do.

The story speaks of one Darius Javida, Kohan by birth. Kohan are immortal heroes that rule the mortals and bring balance to humanity. The story is a typical fantasy fairytale, which unravels through strategic action, the likes of which we had a chance to see in Age of Wonders, Heroes and Warlords serials. The young Kohan will encounter other immortals on his voyage and they will help him unite the kingdoms. The villains are also Kohan, mislead by the "shadow", a classical dark-side element.

Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns has been conceived as a mixture of a RT and TB strategy. The game is in fact in real time, but as you have absolute control of game speed, you can slow it down sufficiently for it to be considered to be turn-based. Hence, this game presents the ideal combination for fans of both types of strategies. Apart from this, the game also features the supply-zone concept, which has also been seen in many strategies over the years. Each friendly or conquered city controls a supply zone that supports your army. When an army stands on a supply zone (slightly lighter fields on map) it heals, loses fatigue, and regains morale. If an army gets too far from the closest supply zone, it starts dieing away.

You control regiments of five to seven soldiers, and have absolutely no control over the soldiers themselves. These units are being lead by a Kohan or a captain. In your explorations you will run across trapped heroes, which you can release and hire. Heroes have magical abilities, like healing or blessing units, and some of them can see through the Fog of War and have great skill in combat.

If your soldiers get severely endangered, they may run away, be overpowered or eradicated. If they run away, and a faster enemy catches them, they will be destroyed. Each unit has several characteristics: attack strength, zone of control, sight-range, etc. Zone of control is very important as it determines the unit's domain. Some units have special abilities that influence basic characteristics by adding bonuses to movement or initiative.

Just like in a lot of other fantasy games, the city will determine the types of units produced in it, but there is unfortunately little difference between the characteristics of most units. For instance, the elven Rainbringers are much the same as the human infantry (apart from their movement bonus). Terrain will also influence unit behavior and movement. The forests can be passed through, but they can also be used for a cover.

The game greatly relies on units' individual AI. There is no way you can command all of your soldiers in battle - you can just order the unit to attack, and the soldiers will do the best that they can. This will give you a feeling that you're giving orders to real units, rather than dumb toy-soldiers like in most other games. During combat, the infantry will fight hand to hand, and they won't be able to get to the archers until they defeat the enemies standing in front of them. Being a fan of the Warlords serial, I especially liked the unit creation system. When you capture a city, you will be able to produce units native to the city; for instance: If you are an elf, and you capture a Slaan town, you will be in the position to create any Slaan units. Kohan pushes this system one step further, letting you combine different races within one regiment. If you wish to create a scout-party, you can just select a group of scouts. When you're done with scouting, you may want to strengthen this group by replacing the side-guards with some archers, or add some spearmen into the first line. Fights in most modern RTS games look more like confusing skirmishes, rather than well-devised combat between highly trained forces. This is where Timegate plans to take the next step in RTS development.

The game also features resource management and city building. You can build new cities, modify existing ones, build outposts and gather resources. Each building in a city (windmill, blacksmith's, temple) has several levels of development. The blacksmith can, for instance, be upgraded into iron market, which will close your influx of iron and turn it into influx of gold.

Each mission has a detailed isometric map. The view reminded me more of Civilization than Age of Wonders or Heroes. The cities have been perfectly designed and you will notice every building and each upgrade. The best thing here is the crisp graphics. The game will only run in 1024x768 and each little unit has been perfectly modeled and animated. You will see each fireball cast by any of your wizards. The only objection would be that the sizes of things are not exactly proportional, but that is common in this type of games.

Kohan is an interesting strategy, and has a lot to offer. It is far from a simple copycat in spite of all the things it borrowed from other games. It brought us some interesting solutions, and a campaign editor that presents a challenge to all the fans of the genre.


8.1   Very Good

Realistic unit commands, excellent and precise animation, great verisimilitude;

Not a very good story, only one campaign, supports only one resolution, slow access to some technologies, few sound samples.



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