As Darkness approaches the beautiful land of
Keanor, all is at peace in the world. The
peasants sleep soundly knowing that their lives, while hard, will continue to be
reasonably fulfilling under the King. Heroes
celebrate their liege in the keep, toasting his nobility long into the night. But with
the coming of the morning sun, a strange mist permeates the land. Crops begin to wither, animals sicken and die,
children begin to disappear. Soon the entire
kingdom cries out to the king, begging for him to protect them from the dark magic afoot. As the cries of the people grow louder and more
mournful, the king, determined to protect his subjects, rallies his finest warriors and
wizards to defeat the rising darkness.
On the morn that a large party sets out to investigate, the king
is found murdered in his bedchamber. Arcane
markings everywhere, the kings chamber looked as if it were a portal to hell. Savage runes of all sorts are scrawled throughout
the room, all in the kings blood. Runes
of summoning, runes of power, runes of travel, and some even more dark and unknown. As the peasants mourn and the mages puzzle over
the meaning of the of mystical symbols, powerful tremors strike the castle. Tremors so powerful that the entire castle begins
to tremble and heave. One by one the runes in
the kings chamber begin to ignite as the floodgates of hell open. Welcome to Keanor!
Thus the torch of command passes to you. In Tzar, you must command the kings army of
peasants, warriors, and mages in battle. You
must protect all that is good and defeat the evil forces that have aligned to destroy you. If you fail, then the world will be plunged into
an eternity of darkness and pain. If you
succeed, then you might live to see the beauty of another sunset over your kingdom.
Tzar consists of 20 solo missions
against the dark forces that threaten the land. These
missions are quite good. They are well
developed, and are an excellent way to get acquainted with the game and its hierarchy of
buildings, characters, and weapons. While I
hate to make a bunch of comparisons in my reviews, the closest game already out (and a big
success in its own right) would have to be Age of Empires I and II. So if you're still not quite sure what the game
is like think of those
just add a fair dose of magic and a whole lot of
As with many RTS games, the solo missions provide a good
introduction to the game. But to truly
appreciate it, and to get the most out of it, you simply HAVE to play with other people. And Tzar is ready, willing, and able to do just
that as soon as you feel ready to take on your best friend or sibling in a fight to the
death. You can multi-play with up to eight
people, and once youre in the game you can begin to form enemies and allies. It is possible to declare alliances (which
prevent your troops from attacking allies) and
to sweeten the pot you can also send gifts of food, lumber, stone,
or gold to friends or enemies. But without
question, my favorite option in multi-player combat is to team up with a trusted ally and
select the allied control feature. This
allows allied players to control each other's troops.
So if your friend stations a small battalion of troops near your town for support
and you are attacked, you can send them into battle if your friend has problems of their
own to deal with.
Play control is done almost entirely
by mouse. Like many of the RTS titles that
have come before it, Tzar uses an easy point and click approach to construction as well as
controlling the movement of troops. The
hierarchy does take a little while to master, especially if you have taken a small break
from the RTS genre. It takes a little while
to figure out what exactly youre doing wrong when A: You cant build something
you think you should be able to, or B: you're not gaining any food, gold, lumber, etc.
The graphics are very well done.
The camera is stationed fairly high above the field of battle, but it is still easy
to identify troops. Throughout the game you
can control knights, wizards, jinni, and a dragon or two might just make a special
appearance, if you're lucky. It is clear that
a great deal of time was put into the design of the structures as well. Each is unique and designed to fill its
small niche in the kingdom. The oceans,
forests, deserts are all beautifully rendered. Even
night and day along with seasonal changes affect the game.
Thankfully, all of the play controls are set to one side of the screen so that they
do not obstruct the view of the field of battle. Nothing
is worse the playing a game that has so many things cluttering up the screen that
its impossible to see whats going on.
The music is good, but the sound
effects are great. The sounds of clashing
steel will soon be ringing forth from your speakers as you wage your holy war against the
forces of evil. The music, however, left a
little something to be desired. While it was
good, it did get to be annoying after a while. But
the solution to that problem was easy enough
turn off the music and just listen to
the sound effects.
Tzar seems to be the next sleeper hit
to shelves of the RTS genre. It is another
excellent game to hit the market with a luke warm reception. This of course doesnt mean anything, other
than that people just dont know about it yet. Once
they do though, this will become a more mainstream game.
While Tzar doesnt really bring anything new to the table it is an excellent
addition to a strategy fans collection. Since
this game is relatively and unfairly unknown it shouldnt be hard to locate a copy
for yourself. And there will probably be
enough copies for all your friends to get one as well.
That way you and your allies can set forth to save the world from the advancing
forces of darkness--before its too late.