Saga Review: Combining RTS and TGC
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), Onrpg Journalist
When I first heard about this game, I was like "What the hell is this?!" An MMORTS? Really? I've seen tons of MMOs and tons of RTSes but to put them both together as one whole package does seem a little off. First of all, these two types of games barely have anything in common other than the unit population. Upon installing the game, I was anxious about what to expect, either it'd be close to DotA (Defense of The Ancients) or not.
The game is set on a medieval fantasy world, giving the impression that it would probably look a bit like Lord of the Rings or Warcraft 3 complete with Humans, Elves and Orcs. What exactly should we expect from a hybrid of two genres that are technically different from one another? The game claims to be the first of its kind (namely the first MMORTS ever) so this should be interesting.
Starting out: Git yer' troops ready young lad!
There are six races to choose from, each representing one of two sides: The Order and the Brotherhood. The Order is comprised of Humans, Dwarves, and Elves while the Brotherhood contains Orcs, Dark Elves, and the recently added Undead. The Brotherhood used to have two races to choose from, making it a bit imbalanced. However the developers were kind enough to offer extra backup with an additional race. The game lets you jump to the tutorial feature after creating your nation. There you will learn the basics of combat, upgrades and other mandatory features. You'll also be given the necessary buildings to start your campaign, and once the voiced tutorial ends, you're on your own.
Not your average Real Time Strategy game
Aside from being the first MMORTS, there are tons of things that make Saga different from its parents (the MMO and RTS). Unlike traditional RTS games like Warcraft and Red Alert, you won't be training units or building ballistas throughout the game; instead, you'll be operating in the field using cards (YES CARDS). The game is basically an RTS operated and optimized by its own TCG (Trading Card Game). The stronger your cards, the more abilities you're likely to posses. It's an interesting factor as this may be the most unique game I've ever seen. Simply calling it an MMORTS won't suffice as it has the game play of what seems to be an MMORTSTCG LOL (which is also another unique genre). Booster packs and other super cards can be found around the world. You can also trade with other players to provide less hassle.
Well enough about the RTS factor. Like any MMO, you can choose between an array of quests for you to obtain the mandatory add-ons like spells, gear and money. Everything is run in a persistent territory, so enemies are likely to be there almost every day. You're not safe from attacks either, so make sure you pump those troops with enough juice.
There are 100 types of troops to choose from, anything from dragons to skeletal warriors. This makes army customization a bit more exciting as the game lets you exercise a rather broad scope of customization. Given the amount of cards and upgrades in the game, I'd say customization in this game has limitless boundaries. The game also lets you team up with other players, which is a good idea since you're most likely to get crushed by other people due the game's persistent nature.
Real TIME Strategy eh? They weren't kidding
One thing I dislike about the game is its browser game real TIME waiting. Most of your constructions may take time to build so you're basically stuck in the waiting phase most of the time, making it super boring. I guess this was the part where they implemented the MMO factor which is WAITING. Units do continue their construction even after you log out, meaning it'd be wise to watch a movie or surf around the net while waiting for your building to go up.
Graphics and visuals
You really don't have anything to expect from Saga's graphics. Everything is poorly rendered and gives just a small amount of detail (at least compared to today's MMOs). If I were to compare, it kind of looks like Khan online on high settings with mass produced characters. It's not that bad since the game play does make up for it, and it runs on low end PCs (wish they had one for the Mac too though). The game does have a couple of visual glitches which have been encountered by a lot of players online. Some of the patches claims to have fixed this issue, but I still keep on seeing stuff about it, so I guess it's still there. The sounds on the other hand makes up for the low end visuals, with voiced out tutorials and a fine set of SFX that makes the whole idea of war a bit more immersive.
You pretty much have everything going with Saga as it is a free to play game, especially since it's the only game in its genre. There are a lot of things to look for in this game due to its diverse methods of army creation. At least you know that your kin aren't the only ones you can put in your army. The graphics are bearable and can still as it preserves a rather different type of game play. If the Wii managed to hit high even with its low ranged graphics, I don't see how this title can't pursue the same path. The TCG factor is just amazing as it sets a new type of economy in game. As a TCG fanatic, I must say that I never expected such a hybrid to work out well. There are tons of visual glitches that can annoy the hell out of you (possibly a reason for you to quit), but you'll definitely want to be there once everything is all nice and stable. Give it a chance, it's actually pretty cool.
- New type of game play
- Army creation is broad
- Good sound effects
- Collectible card game in an MMO? What more could you ask for?
- It's the innovator of its own genre.
- Graphics may not be as good as you think (looks better on trailers than ingame)
- Visual glitch issues
- Still acts like an unfinished product despite its final release
- The persistent feel makes it hard for newbies to cope.