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ups: Fast action and a good history lesson
downs: Not epic in scope or concept, lacks the depth of strategy expected

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Legion Arena
game: Legion Arena
three star
posted by: Blaine Krumpe
publisher: Strategy First
developer: Slitherine Strategies
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 02:25 PM Mon Jan 30th, 2006
last revision: 09:50 AM Mon Feb 6th, 2006

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Click to read.Legion Arena takes you back to a time when dying in battle is an honor and the more you fight the more acclaim you\'ll received. That\'s the strong point of Legion Arena; the battles are fast and furious. You\'ll command troops as both a Roman and a Gallic general over the course of Legion Arena, but armchair strategists should be warned: this game is very light on strategy and heavy on fast paced skirmishes and encounters.

When I first received Legion Arena I thought it was a cheap knock-off my beloved Rome: Total War. However, it\'s really nothing like RTW. The battle environments are on a much smaller scale, there are no empires or overarching civilizations that you must manage, and the number of units you control is small compared to the thousands that could be thrown around in RTW. Essentially Legion Arena is small in scope, yet juicy in the number of battles that you fight, somewhere over 100.

The learning curve for Legion Arena is very short, and come to think of it, not so much of a curve...

You are given a choice of which units to take with you into every battle, as well as which units to repair and how you want your units to be formed and ready for war. Once you have those things ready, just push start and watch the battle unfold. Once the battle is rolling, there isn\'t much micro managing that you can do. Your general is given a set number of order points that can be given out to the troops, but those diminish quickly and take a while to refill as the battle is fought. Between battles, you can train your troops to require less order points, freeing up your general for more real-time orders, instead of just powerlessly watching a squad of militia try to take on heavy cavalry. Slitherine Soft\'s system does a good job emulating the chaos and struggles of managing large groups on the battlefield.

Loosing in Legion Arena really doesn\'t mean anything. There is nothing lost if a battle is snatched out of your hands. You simply restart. This is both a cool and frustrating game catch. It\'s fun because are free to play with any style you like; throw the first game in order to see what the enemy has up its sleeve, then develop a better second run strategy and try and dominate. However, having endless retries without consequence makes the game feel a little light. Somehow, I wanted a slap on the wrist for loosing a battle, a consequence, not a free retry.

Your general earns fame points by winning battles. These points allow you to replenish war-weary units and recruit new ones. Your troops also gain experience points when they fight, which allows you to upgrade their abilities after a battle is won, i.e. better stamina, dodge, etc. You are also given Denari after defeating an enemy, allowing you to upgrade and purchase new armor and weapons for your troops. This part of Legion Arena is where the most strategy comes into play. With the ability to upgrade and equip units, you are able to specifically tailor your warriors to your specific style of battle. Want archers that are supper accurate and quick? Go for it. The same is true with every unit under your control. This is about as deep as the strategy goes in Legion Arena.

The 3D engine is not bad. Not great, but gets the job done. Legion Arena managed to earn itself a mature rating even though there is no blood or gore shown anywhere in the graphics engine. I guess the rating was given due to the violent nature of the game, but there is absolutely nothing offensive to really warrant such a tough call. The sound effects are good and so is the music. However, the same battle tunes play over and over again, and become old after your twentieth battle.

Legion Arena is straight forward and has very few hang-ups, not brilliant but competently executed. The battles do get harder over time, but they also become repetitive. There isn\'t anything epic or astounding about Legion Arena, it\'s just easy to pick up and play. Sometimes, that\'s all you want from a game.

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