Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/05/01 | Genre: Strategy
Kohan: Ahriman's Gift is a prequel to Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns. It could have been just an expansion but you won't be disappointed. This time you're the bad guys so you'll get treated to some new units and maps.
You play Roxanna Jovidan part of the Ceyah. She's been trapped in an amulet for six ages. Waiting and becoming angrier with each passing age. She now wants nothing more than to please her lord and master Ahriman. That way she can be the co-ruler of Khaldun. Now armed with the best armies and her need for vengeance the conquest begins.
The game play is still fantastic. The balance between combat and economics is both subtle yet complex, and in the end will hold any RTS fan glued to the screen. The subtle enhancements are the use of supply zones where your armies can heal, controls that tell the reaction range of your armies are a nice approach to dealing with a large scale RTS like this. The actual battle mechanics however may leave a little to be desired as far as tactics are concerned. The main strategy is really about gaining an economy, expanding, setting up outposts in important locations and especially setting up your armies for maximum efficiency in battle.
What really separates the Kohan series of games is that TimeGate allows you to build the units. Usually you simply click a building to create a unit, but here you to build armies of six distinct units. There is the front line, which is always four of the same type. It can consist of infantry, cavalry and ranged units. Then there are the two support slots that are selected separately. Here you can put any unit you have available, except for a hero, including the "support" units that are more powerful and usually have special weapons or can have special effects on the other forces in the unit. Finally is your captain, which will either be default or chosen from your list of hero characters. Each hero has his or her own powers and special abilities that affect the group. Picking and choosing the right combination can be interesting and enjoyable. Depending on how you've chosen you're units battles can be affected. Each of these units costs a certain amount of upkeep however, which is where your economy comes in.
There are four types of resources in the game, which can be gathered through various components that you attach to each city. Unlike other RTSs you don't have to worry about taking care of harvesting wood or mining for ore. The game will take care of that according to what components you have attached to your city or cities. This allows for more free time to worry about battles. Now there's a slight catch. There are only a certain number of slots open in each city for these components so you'll need to build carefully. This allows you more opportunity to make some interesting strategic decisions. The units you get to create depend on what faction the city originally belonged to and what components you have attached to it. And each of the forces you purchase, with the exception of some, require upkeep in the form of those resources, so you'll also need to balance your use of expensive powerful units with ones that are cheaper for cannon fodder.
Aside from the main campaign in the game, there are also two smaller campaigns. These campaign scenarios don't really vary too much. Most of the time it's annihilate everything that stands in your way. The maps and the circumstances will be different, but everything will come down to who has the bigger army and can produce the fastest. There's more for everyone this time around because there are even more multiplayer maps as well as the random map generator, and a level editor to create your own maps. The editor is pretty simple to use and those that have the patience to design a map will have a ball.
The menus are very nice and everything is easy to navigate. Even if you've never played the first Kohan game if you take a quick romp through the tutorial you'll be building and slaying like a pro. The graphics in the game are beautifully rendered. However they are small on screen and it might have you wishing you could zoom in to get a closer look at the fight. Seeing as you have no real control over the battle that bonus would have been nice. Now if your monitor doesn't support 1028 x 764 resolution you can't play the game to begin with.
The sounds are pretty decent. The slashing of swords, the slinging of arrows and the sounds of men screaming as they die are done well. But after a while they can get pretty boring and eventually annoying. The voice acting is really solid but they have a limited number of phrases and they get on your nerves very quickly. You can only tolerate listing to Roxanna vow to do everything in the name of the Dark Saadya for so long.
This is still a solid real time strategy game. While there aren't too many changes from the original it still stands alone very well. At times Kohan: Ahriman's Gift feels like an epic adventure, with the fate of the world resting squarely on your shoulders. This is a highly entertaining, and only occasionally frustrating, game. This game is different and innovative enough to stand out and make a nice addition to your gaming library.