Qvadriga-PC-Review Qvadriga PC Review

   16/06/2014 at 12:29       Clayton Clive       1 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Matrix Games, Strategy, Racing, Roman, Chariots

I am Claytonius Maximus chariot team manager. I have travelled from Italy all across the Roman Empire, tasting beautiful victories and brutal defeats... Okay, okay, I'm not. But at least in Qvadriga I am. Qvadriga is a strategy with hints of management and simulation, racing game new to Steam that gives you the opportunity to play out the merciless world of chariot racing in your own home and soon on your iOS and Android devices.

When you start the game you can choose to read through a very wordy tutorial, skimming it can give you all the basics you'll need and it also explains to you a few Latin words you'll come across in the game. I didn't have the patience to read it all, and I don't expect many others to. We just want to get stuck in with the racing! Other than the tutorials the menus are not cluttered, there isn't too much information, they feel easy on the eye and are very simple to navigate your way through.

So... Lets race! That's what this game is all about. You can choose either a single race or a campaign, there are 5 factions to represent, all with slightly varying perks. You also have a wonderful luxury in this game with your ability to choose turn-based, known as 'static', or you can choose 'dynamic' which is real time gameplay. I gave both styles a go but dynamic really brings the races to life. Either way you've time to think before you choose your next move, but dynamic keeps the race constant without pauses and at a pace that will keep you interested, it's easy to look away from a turn-based game to do other things, like sip your tea or watch the World Cup, but you cannot take your eyes off dynamic play. 

When starting up a campaign after finding my preferred gameplay style the hardest decision was choosing a name for my team. I needed something that sounds Latin, powerful, triumphant. I chose Parma... Mmm. You can begin in any of the 7 regions of the empire and in total there are 43 city circuses to play through. The circuses vary in size and design depending on your location and are displayed in a top down view when racing. The graphics are nostalgic and very reminiscent of the Close Combat series.  They aren't the prettiest, everything is static except from the racers and lap and position indicators. The circuses are detailed though, with the occasional crucified Christian on display in the centre. I don't think looks are everything anyway, I'm not shallow.

Every city has different benefits too, such as cheaper veterinary care or if you are in a city with more than one circus such as Rome; travel between them is free. But you need to build up the fame and rake in the denarius if you want to travel anywhere. And that's not as easy as you think. You've maintenance costs, you'll need to pay those doctors and vets fees, you'll need to repair your chariots. And sooner or later everything you own will need replacing. Chariots will be lost. Horses will be whipped to the point of death.  Drivers know as aurigae may be brutally crushed under the feet of horses. Don't get attached to anything. Nothing lasts long in Chariot racing. You may also start feeling confident and place bets on your team to win. But a race can be lost in that first corner. Too fast on your approach and you will flip. You can then command your driver to endure or try and escape to the side of the track. He won't last long being dragged by the horses, especially if there is debris ahead and if the escape isn't timed right he will be crushed, becoming nothing more than a splatter of bloody pixels. If over-whipping doesn't kill your horses you can pick up too much speed and your cheaper chariots can fall apart beneath you. And every time I play I cannot help but feel a pang of guilt when I see a dead horse on the track, it is not forgotten how brutal this sport was. However I feel nothing for making Atticus my star racer get dragged the final lap just to grab the consolation prize of simply finishing the race. Then selling him and hiring a replacement because it was cheaper than the medical bills. This is a brutal sport. And it will get dirty. Your rivals will crash into you and damage your chariot or even lacerate you or your horses with their whips, they also sometimes pull into your lane ahead of you so you go crashing into their rear. There are so many variables it's impossible to ever be confident you will win a race. I have failed to finish close to 50% of races I have entered. Every race is a new challenge and before each race a random event will affect it in some way.

All this combined gives the gameplay that time gobbling addictiveness all great strategy games should have. You find yourself saying 'just one more race... just one more race...' and 7 races later when you've lost all your money you finally quit. It's perfectly set up to be a brilliant game on handheld devices that I can just imagine playing on the train or at boring family events. There are no flaws I can pick out with this game. I love it. The only thing I'd really like to see would be an online campaign, that would make things really interesting. Now I must go, I'm racing for the Emperor at Circus Maximus. Don't want to let him down.

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