If you want to get your friends into StarCraft, Siegecraft Commander is a good place to start.
Siegecraft is a fairly simple real-time strategy game. You control a base called a Keep, and your goal is to build towers, advance towards your opponent’s Keep, and destroy it. Each tower you build has different abilities: one creates troops that can move around the map, another can build a variety of weapons, a third can cast spells, and so on.
The catch is that towers are physically connected to each other, meaning one well-placed strike can take out an entire row of structures. If you’re not careful about how and where your towers are built, the tide of the match can turn in an instant. This mechanic is a blast to see work in your favor and devastating if you’re on the receiving end.
Those that are new to RTS titles will love Siegecraft. Gameplay is slick and provides many energetic moments despite being primarily focused on strategy rather than action. I prefer the Zapp Brannigan method of attack (throwing wave after wave of your own men at the enemy), though it’s best to understand the abilities of your entire arsenal as you advance to more challenging matches.
The single-player campaign is divided into two sections. Voyage for Glory follows the Knights of Freemoi on their quest for treasure. While Crusade of Hope has you play as Lizardmen in the midst of tribal warfare. Both can be accessed at the same time, but only Voyage for Glory has a tutorial for the game. I made the mistake of playing the Lizardmen campaign first, which unfortunately meant that my first few matches took far longer than they necessary. Without the tutorial, I would not have really understood the mechanics of the game. It's not really a big deal, but a label for the “beginner” campaign would have been nice.
Also, there’s not much of a story behind either campaign. Dialogue mostly exists to teach you how to play the game. Anything that tries to convey plot is usually given with a dose of flat humor. Thankfully the cut scenes are short.
Overall, Siegecraft Commander is a solid RTS and a fantastic introduction to the genre. Though the story is weak, the gameplay and clever level design more than make up for it.
Final score: 8.2 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.