Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns
Many ages ago, an all powerful being called the Creator decided to construct a new perfect world called Khaldun. By gathering all his immortal servants together, he selected two of the wisest and most powerful and developed a plan for Khaldun’s management and construction. Once the plan was selected, the two immortal servants went about implementing it and created a race of immortal beings called the Kohan. The Kohan inhabited and cared for the world over many years until an evil force called the Shadow infected it and caused the Great Cataclysm. This Great Cataclysm annihilated the perfect society and the Kohan were ultimately defeated letting Khaldun be overrun with evil.
Now the Kohan are being reborn and once again fighting the dark forces of the Shadow. With most of their memory gone, they rely on the memory of others who survived the Great Cataclysm or ancient ruins of their destroyed civilization.
Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns is a real-time strategy game that takes a substantial step forward in improving a dying genre. Although many are tired of the RTS games, if you were a fan who burned out or have never played this type of game, as you’ll see, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns will rekindle an interest and breathe life into this genre.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Before starting, you’ll watch an intro setting up the story and giving background on the creation of Khaldun. After that, the first mission is basically a tutorial helping you to familiarize yourself with the interface and general gameplay. This tutorial is extremely useful and by the time you’ve completed it, you should be comfortable with the interface and actively involved in the storyline.
Once started, there are a few items you’ll notice that differentiate this game from other RTS games. First, don’t worry about gathering resources. This was an issue for many RTS fans as it mainly slowed down the game flow and shortened the replay value. Instead of having to search out resources and spend time harvesting them, now resources are collected by building or upgrading components such as quarries or wood mills, increasing the intake of one or more of the five resources. These resources are then directly exchanged for gold, and since gold is the only currency used, all that requires managing is the total gold intake. If wood is -6 but iron is +9, you’re still clearing +3 gold pieces every time cycle, adding to your total gold count. Another useful improvement over other RTS games is having a limited number of combat units. These combat units, which depend on the size and number of cities you control, force the player to use strategy instead of just amassing huge fighting forces, simply overpowering opponents. In addition, they also help keep the game moving by being able to regenerate as long as one member is still standing and returns to an area under friendly control. This keeps the player from having to produce new units and the combat units actually gain experience the more battles they’re in.
Besides adding innovative concepts, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns also performs well in achieving fundamental gameplay issues. For instance, before each mission, there’s a briefing that gives clear objectives and reasoning as to the importance of completing it and, after each mission, the results of your efforts are told while further advancing the story. This helps for immersion in the story and creates anticipation for the next mission. Another issue is the ability to slow or speed up time. Although this doesn’t sound like a big deal, it really helps to improve the gameplay, as time can be sped up while walking to the opposite corner of the map and slowed down when creating multiple combat units. One last issue is the game’s AI. Having an intelligent opponent that’s able to react to your strategy is always appreciated. Time was clearly spent designing the AI as the computer can and will overtake you unless you outwit it first. Not only will it ignore attacks not strategically advantageous to it, but it will also mass an attack at your weakest point while accepting loses elsewhere.
Unfortunately, even with the improvements, there are still some gameplay issues that become redundant and slow down the game’s flow. For example, although each mission has different goals, you still have to build the same components, or in others words, constantly baby-sit each city's production. As a mission progresses and more cities are acquired, the same process has to be repeated and after awhile, you’ll probably find yourself ignoring the newer cities. What can happen is that after a mission is finished, you may not want to start the next because of all the up-front work it takes to make your cities functional. A simple production queue could have helped alleviate this issue and help to further reduce the management of the cities.
The interface, however, is executed well and flexible. On each side of the screen, there’s a sidebar available giving various types of information, from characteristics of a certain combat unit to what heroes are accessible. If both sidebars are used, there is only a small area to view the action, but they are easily removed and rarely did I have them both out. At the bottom of the screen, a small map is used, showing your location on the left and the status of the combat units selected is given in the middle. The bottom right gives icons that can be selected showing relevant information placed on the side bars. The top of the screen tells how the collection of resources is proceeding and which resources are producing profitable yields and which need to have their yields increased. Overall, there are few complaints as it reaches most of the requirements for a clean and functional interface.
There are also few complaints to be found with the controls. Although not overly impressive, it is fairly easy to command the combat units and manage multiple cities at once. The left mouse button directs troop movement while the left simply selects different icons. All the functions selectable by the mouse using screen icons are also available using the keyboard and vice versa. This allows the player to use either method, depending on their personal tastes.
The graphics, though not spectacular, were sharp and diverse. Everything was well-detailed with decent scenery and different landscapes. The mountain ranges give a sense of height while various trees and the different terrains each have a unique look. The combat units each have distinctive movements and shadows that follow their actions, while the dead decompose and eventually disappear. Although these graphics add to the game, one big issue is that the graphics aren’t so detailed that moving the screen becomes choppy and cumbersome. It can be annoying when trying to relocate your units to a different part of the map only to have the screen jump or the mouse skip to the point where you can hardly select anything at all.
One thing I appreciated about the audio was that when voiceovers were used, they didn’t try to time them with an actual person speaking. I find it terribly distracting to watch a character’s mouth open and close completely out of sync with the words he is supposed to be saying. Instead, a 2D picture of the person talking is shown and the audio reads the text placed on the screen. Other than that, the audio is acceptable but not especially exciting. You’ll hear swords clashing and a nonabrasive soundtrack playing in the background. Generally, while not adding to the game, it doesn’t distract from it either.
Pentium II 300, DirectX 7.0, 64 MB RAM, Direct3D-compatible video card w/ 4 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM, 400 MB free HD space (not including saved games), and a monitor and video card capable of 1024 x 768 resolution at 16 bits
The original storyline combined with innovative new ideas for RTS games will even keep the interest of players not historically attracted to this genre. The improvements added to reduce micromanagement really paid off and hopefully other developers will take notice. While not as popular as other RTS games, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns raises the bar for other RTS developers and creates a solid game that won't disappoint.