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Fantasy General is a hex-based strategy game. Pick your hero, take your army, and lay waste to the various continents of the game.
Let me first start by saying I’ve NEVER been a fan of hex-based strategy. Always found it to be slow, boring, predictable and just not my thing. However, on installing Fantasy General again I was pleasantly surprised. The layout of the menus and design of the interface are easy to use and even without the manual those who are challenged for brain cells can get the gist of the game within ten minutes of playing and messing around.
The campaign game starts with you choosing one of a variety of heroes, each with differing units for their initial army and later acquisition. The game covers a huge array of units, from the lowly peasants with their pitchforks to mighty tree men, wyverns, dragons and catapults. As you progress through the game you find a huge variety of magic items and other heroes (some of which are truly awesome, but I'll leave the details for you to discover) in towns as you capture them.
On this note it must be said that the game is played not on a small scale battle but over huge expanses of country; numerous towns dot the map, rivers cut it, slowing units down, mountains and ravines cause natural chokepoints to help you destroy superior enemy armies. The terrain of the game is extremely important in every battle and must be exploited to its full advantage later in the game if you wish to defeat the superior armies. The first continent gives the beginner the idea that the game is but a case of charging forth and slaying all in your path. However, this approach soon leads to defeat. Units must be used like surgical tools, not some baseball bat with which to merely bludgeon your opponent.
The game is very deep in how every unit, hero and item is different and has different perks and bad points. The quantity of information to read about every unit is fantastic, although the plot is fairly basic in its "rid the world of evil" approach.
The graphics for the game are typical for a top-down basic hex strategy game, although the animations for the deaths of units are a nice touch. Fantasy General has a nice overall feel to it, reminding me of old crusty scrolls in its design.
I could only get the sound to work with VDMSound initialised; running DOSBox normally doesn’t seem to get it to work. The music is very good and atmospheric, although personally I prefer playing with some of my own in the background.
The Arena function provides a welcome relief for those who wish for a game that isn’t racked with tension as you lose your prize unit to a band of goblins – it is at these points that the option to save at any time is welcomed greatly. The number of maps available will also keep you busy for many hours.
Overall I was truly impressed with this game and, to be frank, the depth far outweighs any modern RTS game. Fantasy General will be on my hard-drive for a long time to come.