[A note on the format: Our reviews usually have two parts. First, the site’s editor Andreas Kjeldsen will consider the game’s qualities in itself. Second, we turn to Marc Bloch’s analysis of the game’s historical content, this time in a conversation with the editor.]
Gentle reader, let me transport you back to the halcyon days of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. At that time there existed a German game developer by the name of Ascaron. The company developed a large number of games, but was perhaps best known for its historical business simulators The Patrician and Port Royale, as well as other games in the same genre that have since been mostly forgotten, such as The Hanse, Elizabeth and Vermeer.
Unfortunately, Ascaron went bankrupt in April 2009, mostly because of the cost of developing Sacred 2, but from its ashes arose Gaming Minds Studios under publisher Kalypso Media, dedicated to carrying on the flame of its ancestor. Unfortunately, however, something crucial was lost in the transition, because unlike Ascaron’s earlier games, GMS’s products have for the most part been rather workmanlike, uninspired, and mediocre: Patrician 4, Port Royale 3, and the particularly dire Rise of Venice.
Now then comes the economic strategy game Grand Ages: Medieval, Gaming Minds’ first attempt to break the mold of Ascaron-remakes. There was reason to be hopeful. And the game does have some good ideas. But ultimately, it is still, I am sorry to say, workmanlike, uninspired, and mediocre.
Hello and welcome to the inaugural post of Marc Bloch Reviews Historical Video Games, a site where famous French historian Marc Bloch (1868–1944) and yours truly (Andreas Kjeldsen) talk about historical video games.
The site will be updated three times a week with a summary of the past week’s news about historical games on Mondays, a game review on Wednesdays, and a feature article, interview, or essay on Fridays.
We also have a Steam Curator list of the best of historical games, we are working on putting a GOGmix together, and if the stars align, we might bring you a YouTube channel sometime in the future. In the meantime, go ahead and follow us on Twitter at @BlochReviews for updates, and of course, read on after the fold for all the news from the past couple of weeks.
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