A more polished follow-up to Incredible Simulations’ excellent but little-known Medieval, Medieval 2 is an excellent hex-based wargame that accurately depicts most major battles during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. While it uses a turned-based format, the action is fast-paced enough and the logic accessible enough to attract newcomers to the genre.
Similar to other tactical-scale wargames, Medieval 2 simulates historical battles at a squad level. Typically, your side will have a king, commander, knights, men at arms, and a militia. Despite the small variety of units, Medieval 2 allows a wide range of gameplay options as you can quickly and easily rearrange formations to suit your strategy. There are some new features that improve upon Medieval 1, most notably the “Wing” commands used to issue expedite orders including advance, attack, retreat, fire, and regroup. The game also highlights a new “Reaction Fire” feature that allows units to react quickly to enemy fire without your prompting, making the game much more snappy and the action more continuous.
Throughout a scenario, the game reports your army's level of morale. You can also closely monitor the status of your units, such as the number of desertions, casualties, fire power, combat strength and more. Combat lasts until one side’s morale falls below 30 percent (you can tell that’s coming when you start seeing a lot of guys deserting the ranks before your next turn begins), or until a specified objective is taken. Movement radius is shown by shaded squares, and fatigue is a vital factor (always get the enemy to move uphill, if you can -- it doesn’t take long for a soldier to get winded when he’s wearing 40lbs of armor and toting a halberd!). Leaders are important, too, and units within their radius of influence will attack more bravely, defend more stubbornly, and rally more quickly. The battle is played on a simple, yet effective, 2D map with hand-drawn units that are distinguishable from each other.
All the classic battles of the period are represented in the game, including Hastings, Arsouf, Hab, Durazzo, BraveHeart, Tichebrai, Stiklasadir, Nocerra, The Standard, Lincoln, Dublin, Agincourt, Patay, Arbedo, Barnet, and Hericourt to name but a few. With over 30 scenarios in all, Medieval 2 is truly “the greatest collection of historical Middle Age to Renaissance Battles EVER assembled in a single gaming system” as the company claims on it website. As an added bonus, registered users will also get a free, versatile scenario editor that is very easy to use. Included in the roster of deployable units is every type of soldiery used in the period, from peasant levees armed with staffs to fully-plated knights. The game even includes the Amazons, which opens up interesting possibilities for fans of "Xena: Warrior Princess.” There’s also a delightful fantasy scenario depicting Robin Hood leading his Saxon guerrillas in a last stand against the Norman oppressors. If that’s not enough fun, you can edit any unit you want and use your own graphics with the scenario editor
Don’t let the $29.95 price tag fool you into thinking that this is another overpriced shareware game-- Medieval 2 is a top-notch, highly replayable game with the highest production values of any ISI game to date. The game is much more fun than many other full-price commercial titles on the market today, and the wonderful animated soldiers and flawless user interface will keep you hooked for days on end. Medieval 2 is without a doubt a must-have for all wargame fans, and a proud entrant to our Hall of Belated Fame. Two thumbs up, way up!Reviewed by: Underdogs