Are you tired of medieval-themed management/strategy games yet? Didn't think so, because otherwise you wouldn't be here, and you definitely wouldn't be eyeing up The Guild 2, 4Head Studios' answer to a family-centric, management-laden medieval experience. As a sequel to the aloofly-named Europe 1400, The Guild 2 exists firmly in the multiplayer real-time strategy genre, but just how firmly one can state the real-time nature of its action cannot be understated: this is a medieval-life simulator and economic strategy with a particularly meticulous approach to the subject matter. What I'm trying to suggest is that The Guild 2, though admirable in its efforts to provide a thorough real-time strategy experience, will only be entertaining for the hardcore RTS fans
The Guild 2 sets you off on a rather unique standing, having you assume the role of a lone peasant in medieval society and charging you with the task of working your way up the social spectrum, finding a spouse, having children, and working towards economic prosperity. An original approach indeed, but the game doesn't stop there in terms of the detail it goes into since you also have to do things like run your own business in order to reach a higher social and economic status and achieve social mobility.Continue Reading
Release Date: 12th October 2006
Available on: Windows, PC Download
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The Guild 2 - A pleasant but flawed medieval family-oriented jaunt into the management and overseeing of life in the Middle Ages
If you were thinking that The Guild 2's gameplay would involve a relatively hands-off management style (compared to epic wartime strategy titles like Crusader Kings II, that is), then think again. In fact, this game goes beyond the macro-management of fellow RTS games and has you dipping your hands deep into the waters of the genre, and often reaching into the adjacent genre of RPG as well. Your characters have designated social classes for example (patron, craftsman, rogue etc.); special abilities are assigned to your characters; ability scores, experience points, and levelling up are also an integral part of the gameplay.
These responsibilities are compounded by your duties of constructing buildings, upgrading them, and producing/gathering up resources as you would in any other dedicated real-time strategy game. It doesn't stop there however, since you're also asked to oversee the economics of your situation as well in the form of balancing the books in the day-to-day running of your business. Surely there's not room for any more? Oh, they've gone and squeezed in a smattering of action in the form of fending off thieves trying to undermine your business? The promises made on the official Guild 2 website were true. Well I'll be damned.
Not for the Pessimistic
Depending on whether you're a glass-half-full kind of person or not, you can this abundance of activities to be getting on with as a positive or negative. For the person that likes to fixate themselves on the most menial of tasks for several hours at a time, The Guild 2's gameplay is perfect. The trouble is that if you feel like your glass has too much air and not enough liquid, you're not going to appreciate being bogged down in all of the micromanagement that this game entails. Moreover, you're likely to be too busy to have even filled/half-emptied the glass in the first place (plus it's difficult finding drinkable water as a peasant in these harsh medieval times).
Let's focus on the positives for a bit before we drown in the deep waters of the gameplay though, shall we? The game's got plenty of content in terms of maps to play on, with eight in total that allow you to experience the countryside of Germany, France, and England in the medieval period. Each country has its own specific economic standing which is reflected in your starting position: prosperity abounds in Lyon, for example, while leaner times can be expected in Alamannia due to the disruptive activity of bandits.
Not a Drop To Drink
Many players will find it disappointing that the game fails to offer much variation in gameplay in spite of its in-depth appearance at the outset. Though the broad scope of its gameplay (economic, social, construction, RPG-like progression etc.) may sound like it offers a lot to do, in reality you're really just repeating a fairly limited set of tasks over and over again in different contexts. Your roles may differ between the game's four classes, but in the end it's the same principle applied universally with minor variations applied ad-hoc. Even the multiplayer suffers from the same sort of monotony, though at least then the principle of "a problem shared" comes into play.
It troubles me to conclude that The Guild 2 is quite the disappointing foray into what happens when a game, in spite of an original idea and genuinely pleasant interface, simply attempts to provide too broad of a focus. It's like using broad strokes when a precision brush is needed: there's too much going on, but not enough variation in what you get to do. 4Head's intentions were clearly ambitious and noble, but The Guild 2 has managed to emerge as a product that is less than the sum of its parts.
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The Guild 2 is developed by 4HEAD Studios.