Thank you Gamers Gate for sending us this game to review!
Medieval Battlefields may not be the deepest turn-based strategy game, but the simplicity makes it easy for newcomers to jump in.
The game is set amidst three warring nations, the English, French and Vikings. After picking a faction you're thrown into the war for Medieval Europe, capturing the enemy's land and conquering their armies on a grid-style playing field.
You begin each mission by building structures like the blacksmith to create more powerful units and purchasing upgrades to boost their stats. The strategy lies in maneuvering units on the grid while trying to protect ranged attackers behind infantry without blocking in your cavalry. Victory also depends on mastering the rock-paper-scissor effect between archers, cavalry and pikemen. Defensive units like the priest add some strategy, as well as bolstering your castle defenses in case of a siege. But I found most rounds had me building up my castle to produce the uber tank, the paladin/templar that can dish out huge amounts of damage and take virtually none from the enemy.
While the game has moments of fun like watching your coveted Templar unit storm through a mob of Vikings unscathed to take an enemy base, it quickly became apparent each campaign is virtually identical. The handful of missions are repeated for each faction and Medieval Battlefields quickly runs out of tricks up their tunic sleeves. Missions are also held together by an utterly forgettable paper-thin story told entirely through small paragraphs of text.
Thankfully, multiplayer adds some much needed replay value with customizable maps that can be played online and off with up to eight human or CPU opponents.
However, if you're looking to play online, comparisons have to be made to the free online turn-based strategy game, Armies of Gielinor. Compared to Gielinor, Battlefields cuts unit types to a barebone list of essentials: archer, footsoldier, cavalry, healer and heavy, whereas Gielinor supports a large number of factions and truly unique unit types, though some are only unlocked through micro-transactions.
Medieval Battlefields also sports dated graphics similar to the free-to-play Gielinor though without the fantasy flair. The terrain is bland and has little bearing on the action, except as obstacles like forests and mountains that funnel the action. Battles are adequately conveyed through basic animations and death animations are momentarily bloody though these can be switched off in the settings for younger children.
While more variety would be welcome in the sound department, the original music is fitting for the medieval theme and even contains a few standout tracks with stirring guitars and strings.
I should also note that the game crashed. A lot. Once I was in a campaign the game performed fine, but trying to load my save often took upwards of 5 or 6 tries and rebooting the program for it to work. While there were plenty of online matches available, my game crashed every time I tried to join.
In the morality department, strong themes of war may turn off parents with younger children, though the game does a good job of showing the conflict from all sides. There is no universal "bad" faction, your enemy just depends on your point of view.
Overall, Medieval Battlefields was a no brainer for Cateia games; a cheap, effective addition to the many low budget turn-based strategy games on the market. Battlefields does little to stand out, but it does nail the basics with simple mechanics, clean visuals and presentation, if lacking in creativity. But if you're looking for a straightforward strategy diversion on the cheap, look no further than Medieval Battlefields.