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The Guild 2: Renaissance (PC)

Game Review: The Guild 2: Renaissance
Genre:  Real Time Strategy
Developer: JoWooD Entertainment
Available Platforms: PC, Steam
Players: 1 player offline, multiplayer online
MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: T
Website: http://www.theguild2.com/

Rarely do we ever see a game set in the Middle Ages; it is a time period that has a rich history and setting, but has been overshadowed by space epics and modern-day war stories.  However, The Guild 2: Renaissance bucks these trends and plops the player right into the Middle Ages, 1400 to be exact.  What you do after that is all up to you.  The Guild 2: Renaissance is a sandbox for you to live out all your Middle Age fantasies.

The Guild 2: Renaissance takes the “real-time strategy” genre in a direction I never expected.  It is nothing like other RTS games such as Starcraft or Age of Empires, where you must build an army as fast as you can to destroy the other team.  In The Guild 2: Renaissance, you start as a lowly citizen in the year 1400.   However, as the game progresses, you lead your character up the social ladder until you finally are able to become the leader of your city.  To do this, you must build and maintain different buildings, such as a bakery or an inn, and manage them to earn money and prestige.   While doing this, you are also tasked with finding a wife for your next generation, keeping track of your relationships with other dynasties, and managing your workers.   There are many different game modes, such as “Extinction”, where your ultimate goal is to eliminate the other dynasties, and “Time Limit”, where you have a set amount of time to become the best and wealthiest person you can be.

Like I said, this game is nothing like other RTS games where you must build and manage an army.  This game fully simulates a small town in the Middle Ages, everything from your status in the town, to the town economy.  As such, it plays less like an RTS and more like a RPG.   At the beginning of the game, you choose your profession and are able to deeply customize your character.  After this, you construct shops, man them with apprentices, and work your way up society by wheeling and dealing.  This process is a very slow one, and these games (especially in extinction mode) can last forever.  When I think of real-time strategy, I think more of split-second decisions being made in the heat of battle and Starcraft games that last around 20 minutes.  The Guild 2: Renaissance is nothing like that.

"Quickly, more beer to table 4!"

The Guild 2: Renaissance is very deep.  You can control so many aspects of the game that it’s mind-numbing at times.   Watching your character go from a nobody to all powerful merchant is a really cool feeling as well.  Almost every single aspect of everyday life is represented, including the social interactions, a market economy, and different factions within the town.  All in all,  The Guild 2: Renaissance is a game that if you like, you can easily get sucked in for hours at a time. The world is also incredibly accessible.  You have a large amount of customization of all your characters, and you can go visit the inside of your buildings and see your workers toiling away.

However, while it has a very large amount of accessibility, the presentation is less than stellar.  The graphics are dated, and watching the characters talk is painful when compared to the big-budget games.  The voice work is a little cheesy, and the sound is simply “meh”.  Also, this seems to be a big problem with many of the games I have reviewed recently: NO TUTORIAL! For a game as complex and challenging as The Guild 2: Renaissance, a tutorial is really mandatory.  The manual for the game was useless as well (it just listed a bunch of new features and assumes you played the original already).   I also found the game to be incredibly overwhelming after awhile; there is just so much to keep track of!

If you are looking for a RTS game that features combat as it’s primary asset, you will be disappointed with The Guild 2: Renaissance.  However, if you are looking for a deep social simulation and are willing to take the time to master the controls, than you might want to consider picking this game up, especially for only a Jackson.

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