Video Game Thoughts: Braveheart

Braveheart was a 1999 strategy game developed by Red Lemon Studios and published by Eidos Interactive for the PC. I happened to see this game one day while looking at a garage sale. They were only selling it for $5, so I took a chance. It turned out to be a bad decision. I liked the Braveheart movie, but the game just wasn’t that great. I’m not even sure if it was based on the events of the movie. The player controlled one of the Scottish tribes. They had to manage economy, research, production, relations with other tribes, and many other things. The ultimate goal was to conquer Britain for the Scottish.

At first it was about building up the clan. Eventually, the player could start taking territories from other clans. After a long time, the clan might be strong enough to tackle the English army. The gameplay was basically a hybrid of turn-based strategy and real-time tactics. In between battle, the player could use several controls to influence economy and research and all the other things a clan needed. Once a battle occurred, it went to a 3D battlefield view. The player had to give the proper orders to their troops to win the battle.

This was how the game was supposed to work; the actual gameplay was very different. The number one problem the game had was bugginess. So often it would just crash with no error message or anything. I think I found one patch for the game, but it didn’t do much. Even when the game did work, it did a horrible job of helping the player learn what to do to be successful. There were all these controls for the economy and other things but no information on what those controls actually did.

This game was clearly rushed. It had a lot of potential with all the ideas behind it, but the execution wasn’t there. A game that hybridizes two game genres is extremely hard to do right. Luckily, the potential of this hybrid was realized by another game developer in the Total War series. These games played just like Braveheart, with much fewer bugs. Braveheart may have worked if the developers could have worked on the game another five years, but the Braveheart franchise was already getting pretty old by the time this game came out. The movie came out in 1995 after all, a full four years before the game. By then there just wasn’t enough interest to justify any more delays.

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