High Seize «

Pathway to Glory may never relinquish its title as best N-Gage game. Sure, some great games have come since — Glimmerati, Splinter Cell, etc. — but it’s superb presentation and innovative tactical gameplay keep it on top. Its developer, Red Lynx, is also responsible for High Seize, and guess what — it also kicks a lot of butt.

Rather than coming off as a Pathway clone, High Seize most resembles a slightly more serious Advance Wars. Instead of a fantasy-based world, the tale takes you to the Caribbean in the 17th Century. In turn-based fashion, you battle enemies on land and sea (if you’re wondering, “Why not air?” then I pity you). Strategize a plan of attack by knowing the strengths and weakness of all units on the field, use terrain to your advantage, and be mindful of counter-attacks.

Between battles, enjoy trolling around the warm waters.

As most fracases take place on the coast, land and water units often mix it up. You have plenty of choices on either front. Regular soldiers are versatile, but not as powerful as forms of cavalry. Large cannons and siege weapons will do some major damage, but can’t move and fire in the same turn. Then, in the water, you have swift sloops, floating mortars, and rowboats that you can load with troops and bring ashore.

Bringing buildings into the mix further deepens High Seize‘s gameplay. You’re often defending your headquarters or trying to capture the enemy’s. Neutral buildings can be commandeered to increase your gold output — which allows you to make better units for reinforcements. The AI can also do this, however, and will unleash a never-ending barrage of baddies at you. This is one thing that makes the game quite difficult; battles can last seemingly forever. I must say I’ve never got my rear end handed to me so many times in a tactical RPG before. At least there are mid-battle saves.

That’s not all, folks. All units rely on rations to stay healthy, and projectile-based ones can run out of ammunition. When they’re getting low on either, you must send a defensive unit to them with a payload of ammo and/or nutrition, or spend some time at a friendly fortress. I’m relatively indifferent to this mechanic. It’s neat to have something else to monitor; but I want to blow stuff up, not worry about how many charges my catapults have left.

The story is a decent one, made better by really nice cutscenes and excellent voiceover audio. I also like how you can paddle around the world, picking which missions to undertake — it lends a free-roaming, nonlinear aspect to High Seize that you won’t find too often in this genre.

Much of your fighting takes place on dry land.

These exploration sections also represent some of the best graphics in the game. Mid-battle, the visuals sink down to average quality. Maybe it’s because I expected so much from the company who made the beautiful Pathway to Glory, but the levels and units just look a little too plain. It’s admirable the amount of information the game packs on the screen, however — with non-invasive windows and a slick HUD.

High Seize deserves some high praise. It really is the next best thing to Advance Wars. You can even play online — something Nintendo’s game doesn’t offer. As long as you won’t be too put off by the tough difficulty level, High Seize is something every tactical RPG fan should pick up. I think it’s booty.

 

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