Age old conflicts between the Gauls, Celts, Teutons and Romans. It’s an old story, but one worth telling in Celtic Kings from Strategy First. Only the most heroic survive, counseled by the most mysterious and magical of druids. Only then can you take back your land and avenge your people.

Celtic Kings offers two types of single-player games. Both provide a RPG element to the familiar Warcraft or Warlords type of game in which levels are gained through completing missions or quests and through combat. You must also acquire magical items to a*ist you on your quests. The more you do, the better your heroes become. The better your heroes, the more effective they are when it comes to leading troops during battles.

The adventure part of the game is scripted, it’s not one of those Empire games where you start out with one peasant and one building, then conquer the map. Your hero, Larax is out to destroy the invaders who are oppressing his people. Backed by Gods, Goddesses, and Druids you’ll pursue the Teutons through ancient ruins, vast kingdoms and shrines. You’ll be helped along the way by characters, such as Viking heroes and village chiefs. Speaking of villages, the Village Hall is your key facility. Your resources are gathered here and you’ll feed and house your troops. It is essential to defend, and if you capture an enemy Village Hall, you gain control of that village. It is also vital that you keep your hero alive and well trained. In addition to your own hero, you can hire and train heroes from your Arenas. You can use these hired hands to lead your troops into battle. Your troops benefit from their leadership. It’s also a way to keep your hero alive during some of the minor skirmishes you’ll almost always encounter. In the end almost all of the people you meet and the alliances you’ll form will stay with you throughout the game.

If you don’t want to play through the campaign, you can play a skirmish game, with up to seven computer opponents in a variety of settings. There are many configurations to choose from and victory conditions. You can set the computer opponents for chaotic, aggressive or defensive styles. Also, you can select the type of maps, including weather that you want to play on. You can also litter the battlefield with artifacts to enhance gameplay. You can play as either the Romans or the Gauls, each with their own unique buildings and units.

As I mentioned earlier, Celtic Kings is a different type of resource gathering game, because it eliminates the need for building structures. I must admit, it took some getting used to not seeing structures being built on the map. When you start a single-player game, you’ll start with one stronghold, containing a village hall, blacksmith, arena, barracks, tavern and Druid house. Each structure offers some type of upgrade or troop capability. Instead of adding buildings, you simply upgrade them to produce more advanced units. Food is essential for feeding your troops and workers. Without food, your troops and workers will die from starvation. I think it’s cool the way you can set-up mule caravans to follow your troops around to make sure they are well fed. Of course what kind of strategy game would this be with the need for gold. Gold is used for upgrading buildings and units. Gold is generated in strongholds and outposts. Trade also plays a major role too. You can establish trade routes to neighboring villages in order to balance the population and to generate food as well as income.

The games graphics are vibrant and bright and the sound is good too. As a matter of fact, the game looks better than most games of this type. Pathfinding is good also. I do think the units hug the side of the roads a little too much though. The game also ships with a map editor. You can create your own maps and missions with it, thereby extending gameplay.

All in all Celtic Kings does almost everything right with this game. The game introduces new elements to the genre almost in the same way that Kohan did. I recommend this one heartily.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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