Tag Archives: Mordheim: City of the Damned

Mordheim: City of the Damned review

Over the years, I’ve played a few Games Workshop’s offerings. They’re based in my home town of Nottingham, so it sort of makes sense. From Warhammer to Space Hulk, the table-top nights of years past were always a little fun. I never got so much into it that I played the Mordheim series and in some respects that’s sad. The digital offerings have varied. Space Hulk on the Amiga was amazing fun, taking top-down, turn based gaming to another level at the time. Can we place Mordheim: City of the Damned in the same bracket for today’s consoles?

Mordheim is a tactical RPG based on the tabletop game of the same name. A twin-tailed comet has smashed into the Empire city of Mordheim, scattering magical Wyrdstone all over the ruins. Fight as one of four main Warbands, battling to control key neighbourhoods in this shattered city. The story is set during the intro of the game, which repeats every time you load the game up, irritatingly.

If you’re going to invest in Mordheim: City of the Damned, than I’d highly recommend running through the Training sections right from the off. This simply isn’t a game that you can launch yourself into. To put it in simple terms, you’ll get mullared from the off and from there it’s a downward spiral into frustration and misery. That being said, you sort of sleepwalk through the tutorials. There are so many elements to the game it’s a miracle if you don’t get overwhelmed by the number of things that you have available as turn choices.

Turn choices. There’s the biggest gripe I have with the game, right there. To get to the action, you first have to select a Warband to create. There’s four to choose from, being, Skaven clan Eshin, Human Mercs, Sisters of Sigmar and Cult of the Possessed. At the time of this review, the Cult was paid DLC only, which was a huge disappointment. Once you’re banded, you need to buy your members with your limited funds. There are several classes of warrior to pick and each one has different attributes, such as ranged attack, heavy attack, leadership etc. Its fairly standard for RPGs.

Mordheim

When you’re finally ready to start your campaign, you sort of sit there, waiting for something to happen. The campaign launches a Map screen and from there you get to pick a mission that will lead you, eventually, to the streets of the beleaguered city. Here’s where it gets a bit sketchy. You get the opportunity to add warriors to your Warband here, but its not explained how you manage this, nor if you’ve been successful in adding them. This can result in you fielding a vastly under-strength group of warriors. Not that this would seem to matter. No matter where you start on the difficulty scale, your warriors will be axe-fodder.

I’ll explain. As you attempt missions, you’ll gain XP which can lead to skill upgrades, even if you were defeated, or as the game calls it, routed. During the course of the battles, if your warriors are debilitated or killed, you’ll get a report on their injuries and their chances of survival at the end of each mission. In one battle, my Hero received significant nerve damage, rendering him pretty much useless for the remainder of his warrior life. Despite this, you still have to pay the warrior upkeep, despite running very short on gold. Thus the downward spiral of Mordheim: City of the Damned begins.

Start a mission then, and you will start your ‘turn’. These are performed in rounds and I still struggle to follow the logic behind how they are playing out. Your Hero or Leader seems to go, thus exposing him as you’re never sure when the enemy will be moving, then the enemy start to move. After this, the rest of your Warband move. I still don’t understand why it happens like this. As with some classic games, like Laser Squad, Mordheim makes you think about the trade-off between moving great distance and attacking. The options that you have use some form of Action Points, but as I seemed to go through the Tutorial in something of a malaise, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you where these are on the display.

These turns allow you to choose a finishing ‘stance’ from your warrior. Choose from Hold Ground, Ambush, Dodge or Parry depending on whether you’re engaged with an enemy. The combat mechanic is, if truth be told, a massive disappointment in this game. I get that Developer, Rogue Factor, want to try to capture the essence of the tabletop game and the way that they inevitably run in turns, but this serves to make the digital version confusing and frankly tedious.

Mordheim

Once you’re engaged with your enemy it’s a case of tap A then A again. There’s no feeling that what you’re doing after that isn’t down to anything other than luck. If luck is all that the game uses to score hits, misses, dodges or parries, then I must have completely lucked out in life. There’s no connection to the gamer, not like other tactical RPGs on the market.

Make no mistake, Mordheim: City of the Damned is, right from the outset, tough. I tried to stick with it, but I’ve not won a mission yet. I’ve been soundly routed every single time. After five or six of these and with you having run out of gold to pay for your warrior’s upkeep and medical needs, it’s pretty much capitulation each time, with no chance of completing missions. It’s like real life but more brutal.

The city itself is beautifully rendered and the characters are nicely drawn and well animated. There was something that didn’t really ring true with the city streets though, and it took me a few days to realise what it was. There are no citizens left in the ruins. No dregs of humanity or the remnants of occupation. No wildlife or mutants hiding in the rubble to try to catch you out. It’s simply unrealistic.

Mordheim

Mordheim: City of the Damned is a missed opportunity. The decision to make this a turn based RPG doesn’t really work as the turn order in each round doesn’t make any sense at all. There’s permadeath in the game as well as debilitating injuries suffered in battle. This adds to the atmosphere but makes the difficulty ramp more of a 50-foot wall than a gradual incline and the over-complicated, plodding tutorial does nothing to inspire the player to remember what you’re supposed to be doing and in what order. The game is over-complicated and far too challenging to be enjoyable. The Campaign is sectioned into days for example. Nowhere does it mention this. I flipped around the Campaign menus, looking to start another inevitable rout only to find that I needed to end the day and recover injuries before I could try again. It’s an awful decision from the developers. The game would have fared much better by being a traditional Hack ‘n’ Slash RPG. It’s not a game-changer in it’s field. It’s simply a frustrating, difficult, confusing mess.

Focus Home Interactive E3 line-up

Focus @ E3

With E3 just around the corner our good friends at Focus Home Interactive have revealed their line-up including presentations of the games by the developers + hands-on sessions. In addition to this they’ll be some exciting new announcements, which will be showcased behind closed doors. If you are heading to E3 this year below you’ll find the list of the games you will be able to take a look at, or even try at the Focus Home Interactive booth (West Hall 5312), next month.

  • Divinity Original Sin Enhanced Edition (PS4, Xbox One, PC), the multi-award winning RPG developed by Larian Studios arrives on consoles, with a load of new features and enhanced graphics.

  • Blood Bowl 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC), developed by Cyanide Studio, smashes Games Workshop’s Warhammer and American football together, in an explosive cocktail of turn-based strategy, humour and brutality.

  • The Technomancer (PS4, Xbox One and PC), a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic RPG set in a cyberpunk world from studio Spiders, that will bring you to the hazardous red planet.

the_technomancer-05

  • Mordheim: City of the Damned (Consoles (but which ones?), PC) is the videogame adaptation of Games Workshop’s cult classic tabletop game. This is a turn-based strategy game that blends RPG elements, fast-paced tactical combat and intricate unit customization in a time wrought by chaos and rivalry.

  • Space Hulk Deathwing (PS4, Xbox One, PC) by Streum On Studio is a First-Person Shooter experience of Games Workshop’s classic boardgame Space Hulk, set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

  • Battlefleet Gothic: Armada (PC), developed by Tindalos Interactive, is the real-time strategy adaptation of Games Workshop’s tabletop game, that stages the dark, deadly and intense space battles from the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
  • Farming Simulator 2015 (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox360, PC, Mac, Vita) joins E3 after its recent release on consoles. Developer Giants Software will tell you more about the future edition, and will unveil the first official Farming Simulator wheel controller, created by Saitek. You can read our review of Farming Simulator 2015 here.

  • Act of Aggression (PC), the new real-time strategy game on PC from Wargame creator Eugen Systems. Act of Aggression draws inspiration from the Golden Era of RTS titles, with a unique near-future techno thriller ambiance. Watch the teaser
  • Vampyr, the RPG from DontNod, will unveil its first teaser trailer at E3!