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Marc Bloch Reviews Historical Video Games
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Painters Guild is a management game in which you operate a guild of painters in Renaissance Italy. Beginning with a single painter and a small building in either Florence, Venice, or Rome, you must put your artists to work—by clicking and dragging them around the guild—creating paintings for the wealthy patrons who (literally) come to your door, as well as having them rest, mix paints, and train their skills and learn new art styles.

The humble beginnings of a grand guild.

The humble beginnings of a grand guild.

As your guild gains more prestige, you will attract more patrons, as well as wealthier ones who demand larger and more difficult paintings, which in turn means you need to expand the guild with new apprentices and new rooms to keep up with demand.

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Hello and welcome to the Marc Bloch Reviews Historical Video Games Monday news roundup. It’s a short one this week, but join us again on Wednesday for a review of Painters Guild. And if you like what we do here, why not leave a comment or subscribe us on Twitter at @BlochReviews?

The News

Ubisoft has announced Far Cry Primal, which appears to be some sort of pre-historic mammoth-hunter simulator. First, there was a long and puzzling livestream, and then, at long last, there was a trailer as well. Games marketing is so weird these days.

(PS: There may be certain, let us call them “people”, who might argue that a game set in pre-history – by virtue of said “pre-“ – does not belong on a site about games set in (non-pre-) history. But listen: This site is not one to busy itself with minor matters of chronology.)

A newly launched Kickstarter, Antinomy is an open-world action-adventure set in a fictionalised Middle Eastern country inspired by the Holy Land in 1892. It looks promising, so consider taking a look. The Kickstarter runs until the end of November. (Disclaimer: Your news editor has backed this game himself. Always use your best judgement plus health scepticism when deciding whether or not to back a Kickstarter project.) [Kickstarter]

Recent Releases

Europa Universalis III Complete has been released on GOG. It’s still a good game and worthy of purchase. However, do note that, because of reasons, the “Complete” package is not actually complete with all upgrades; in order to get the complete game, you need to buy the “Complete” package as well as the “Collection Upgrade” package, which together will give you the complete… Look, just wait until they put the Chronicles package up for sale. Because that one is the cactual complete game. [GOG]

From the Watchlist

There are now 38 days to the release of Templars Templars Everywhere Assassin’s Creed Syndicate!

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Perhaps the most important question when talking about history, games, and history in games is: What is an historical game? What are the criteria for evaluating a game’s historical content?

At first glance, the answer might seem obvious, even tautological: A game is historical if it reflects history. If the game is about the Battle of Gettysburg, it needs to happen on July 1–3, 1863, the Confederate Army should be commanded by Robert E. Lee, it should consist of these particular regiments, and so on.

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[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.


Grand Ages: Medieval – the seed of an empire is sown…

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.

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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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