There was once a time when it was believed that strategy games and consoles were diametrically opposed to each other and, consequently, never the twain would meet.
However games such as Tropico, Halo Wars, Xcom and now Numantia developed by RECO Technology have gone some way towards dispelling that myth.
Set in 154 BC, Numantia tells the little known tale of the epic battles between the Roman Empire and Spain led by the feared warlord Carus of Segeda .
During a blood-soaked period known as the Celtiberian Wars, the Roman Senate finally despaired of the prolonged war against Spain and gave Scipio Aemilianus Africanus the task of destroying Numantia. According to history, Scipio laid siege to the city, and after a bloody 13 month siege, the Numantians decided to burn the city and die free rather than live and be slaves. This is the stuff of legends and the fact that this incredible story is considered little more than a footnote in Roman history is, quite frankly, astonishing.
In Numantia, we are presented with a series of hexagonal table top battlefields. You have the option to play as either the Celtiberian’s or the Roman army. But with the title of the game being a dead giveaway, it’s unlikely that many gamers will opt to be the Romans straight off the bat.
As a turn-based offering, Numantia plays in a similar vein to other RTS titles; you get to pick the right units, decide whether you’re going for a long range offensive, infantrymen, direct assault or some sort of flanking strategy.
In between battles Numantia offers engrossing cut scenes filled with truly fascinating information about this period of long forgotten history. If anyone ever doubted that games can be both educational and fun, then Numantia will answer that question in style. During the cut scenes, you are able to make decisions which will affect the course of the next battle. It’s worth noting that your decisions will not affect the course of history as Numantia’s eventual defeat at the hands of the Roman war machine is a foregone conclusion. How you get there and the decisions you make, however, are purely up to you.
Numantia is composed of two main sections; the campaign mode which tells the story of the Celtiberian War and an Arena stage, where you get to try your hand at a selection of battles and scenarios playing as either the Numantian or Roman Army.
Control-wise, the game handles like a dream. Despite the obvious limitations of a controller (over a point and click mouse interface), controlling the action, selecting and directing units is effortless and intuitive. The only minor gripe we had was that, as with most console RTS games, reading the text on the screen from a couple of meters away often proved difficult but not insurmountable.
Graphically, Numantia is a great looking game. The hand drawn cut scenes are nothing short of works of historic art and the ingame battlefields are atmospheric and engrossing. Despite the fact that we were nearly two meters away from the screen, it was relatively easy to pick out units and navigate through the terrain.
Audio-wise, the music in Numantia was a great fit for the epic battles and the sound effects did a great job of immersing you in the action.
As huge fans of RTS games, we were surprisingly pleased with Numantia. Despite the fact that this has been produced by an indie developer, Numantia offers countless hours of gameplay as well as challenging scenarios that really test your resourcefulness. The fact that these battles actually happened only served to enhance the feeling that you’re present while history is being made.
We would love to have had the opportunity to play against other gamers in online battles, but perhaps this is something that can be explored in a future game.
As it stands, Numantia is an excellent RTS title that more than holds its own against its larger big budget competitors. We take our hats off to RECO Technology for telling the story of such a pivotal moment in history that might otherwise fade into obscurity. Go play and enjoy.
9 out of 10