Beyond the Commandos saga, the Pyro Studios team also signed other interesting works such as this real-time strategy video game that puts us in charge of the armies of Rome, Egypt or the barbarians. In the analysis of Praetorians HD, we rediscovered one of the strategy classics developed in Spain.
Pyro Studios. Its single mention makes me feel tremendously nostalgic. Authors of the legendary Commandos saga, with which more than 20 years ago I entered the great world of strategy and stealth games, they were also responsible for other projects that fueled my passion for the challenging art of commanding troops and guiding them to success on the battlefield. So have the opportunity to return to the action of PraetoriansI found it very exciting entry. It was a video game that at the time I enjoyed very much but after all these years, I was curious to see how it had aged. And the truth is that nothing wrong, even if in many ways it has become outdated or, at least, lacking the options you find in other titles of the style. The pity is that Praetorians HD Remaster lives up to its name by presenting itself as a simple remastering that does not do much to change what is seen in the original.
There is no new content, no improvements in artificial intelligence or a renewed user interface that picks up all the good things that the genre has given us in the last decade. The graphics have been polished, yes, and everything has been prepared to work well in the online multiplayer, but do not expect a remastering like the great Age of Empires 2.
Obviously it is appreciated that Kalypso has rescued from oblivion a videogame of military strategy as interesting as Praetorians, but it is not disappointing that it is such a discreet job, lacking in ambition because in the end the years do not go in vain for anyone and This is not an exception. So while you are going to enjoy exciting battles with many war tactics involved, there are aspects that can end up frustrating even the most patient of the players. And even with those, if you like strategy, you should not miss the opportunity to relive this classic.
Master the terrain and you’ll be victorious
War! Neither resource management nor construction, just war; exciting strategic duels in which more than the number of troops you launch into battle, what counts is how you take advantage of them. The old tactic of a mass attack like a Zerg swarm from the StarCraft saga and relying on our numerical superiority to win victory is not worth it. Praetorians don’t work that way and it’s something I love. Closer to the combat experience of other greats of the genre such as the fantastic Total War series of Creative Assembly, here every squad of soldiers has something to say in the course of the fight. The essence is simple but in practice, you have to be teachers.
Praetorians HD endures well over the years, the AI does not end up being up to par.
Following the traditional stone-paper-scissors scheme, each unit has pros and cons that you must take care of if you do not want to suffer a crushing defeat. The spearmen are devastating in front of the cavalry, yes, but a shower of arrows can kill these soldiers in a matter of seconds. The usual, come on. But the grace of Praetorians is that there are many other tactical elements that you should keep in mind so as not to die at the first change. With three armies to choose from, each with its own particularities, each squad has unique abilities or exclusive combat formations that are essential for the achievement of success.
Thus, returning to the example of the spearmen, if you place them in a static position, driving the spears into the ground, they will become a practically invulnerable defensive wall for cavalry and even infantry … unless the enemy is ready and, using the flanks or the rear, finish them without being able to react in time. And they will! Well, artificial intelligence is still able to surprise us with some devastating combat tactics that take advantage of our mistakes. Too bad that the rivals, and our own troops, sometimes also have radically opposite behavior, being paralyzed by certain rushes, or moving from here to there without any coherence. Although Praetorians HD endures well over the years, AI does not end up living up to the current standards of the strategy.
It would not have been too much to change the modeling and animations of the troops.
Battles can also be somewhat chaotic., so it would have been nothing wrong to refine the user interface to make it more comfortable to direct the troops into combat. Sometimes I have felt totally overwhelmed by the impossibility of making the most of the soldiers once the war around them has been unleashed. The previous moments are great; there is nothing like placing archers in an elevated position, hidden in a forest! and massacring rivals without having a chance to defend themselves. But if things get twisted, or the battle intensifies, this beautiful tactical vision of the conflict gives way to a fight without quarter in which, yes, obviously you will have to keep managing your scarce human resources intelligently, but the experience is not so enjoyable as I remembered… nor expected. I really have a hard time imagining that such a game can adapt to consoles as its managers claim.
There are many tactical elements that make Praetorians HD a very enjoyable game today. Nubian archers, for example, have a brutal reach that makes them lethal in elevated positions, while Roman legionaries can use turtle formation to protect themselves from the rain of arrows. Each troop, and each army, allows you to face the fighting with subtle differences that help you enjoy a video game that also knows how to surprise with the design of its missions. Not all consist of attacking the village of the rival and that’s it: there are escort tasks, sieges to great fortresses, or missions in which you must seek the support of allies while protecting a strategic position.
Although there is a lack of a greater variety of troops to choose from since they are a dozen per faction, Pyro Studios managed them in its day so that the action of Praetorians would never cease to be exciting, and it is meritorious. It is clear that compared to other recent games it has fallen short of options and contents, that I come from enjoying the epic battles of Total War: Three Kingdoms !, But if you like military strategy, you will know how to find in Praetorians HD reasons more than enough to have a great time-fighting in the skin of the Romans, the barbarians and the Egyptians. As I said, it is deeper than it seems, and even takes into account the fatigue of the soldiers when determining their effectiveness in combat. The management? Reduced to the minimum expression. You must conquer some villages where, automatically and very little by little, the population will increase; an indispensable resource to train soldiers apart from other special ones such as honor points, necessary for more veteran combat units.
With all this, this remastering is the best excuse to relive a beautiful era in the history of game development in Spain. The pity is that it is very superficial work. Yes, of course, the graphics have improved and it will not cost you anything to fully engage in the action; but it would not have been more to change the modeling and animations of the troops, or to integrate options such as the tools for mods, since in the original they gave rise to great works by the amateur community, which even introduced more factions to the to lead, among other graphic improvements. That is why it feels like a missed opportunity to make known, as it deserves, a great military strategy game. Special mention for your soundtrack, although it is limited in terms of the number of musical pieces, it offers high-quality melodies. The game also comes with the original Spanish dubbing, which is appreciated.
Everyone knows Pyro Studios for their work in the Commandos saga, but this mythical Spanish team was also the architect of other games as interesting as a Praetorians HD, which more than 15 years after its birth is still a real-time strategy game very enjoyable More combat options are lacking if compared to recent video games, and it would have been great if the remastering work was more ambitious; but in general, if you like gender you will have a great time commanding the armies of Rome, Egypt and the barbarians.
- Military strategy with more tactical options than it seems
- The subtle differences between the three factions that star in the game
- A very superficial remastering, without news and with few visual changes
- Some problems with artificial intelligence
- Battles can become very chaotic; it would have been nice to redesign the interface