"Jeanne D'Arc" is Dark_Reign's new project, only a teaser at this time, but a very good one, that will certainly draw people's attention. It is a succession of cinematic and playable moments, but don't expect a challenge from this game, it's mostly an introduction.
The teaser certainly achieves it's purpose, that of advertising a future complete game. The cinematic beginning is very well constructed, but the playable part at the end is somewhat less eventful, though the player will still have the pleasure of observing a very detailed and visually appealing environment througout.
There is virtually no challenge, but that is somewhat to be expected from an introduction. Much of the scenario is actually cinematic so there would be no point in deducting too much for it - however, in the latter part of the game, when the player kind of expects some action to ensue, there is still no oposition. Even the enemy encampment section can be passed without fighting an actual battle, which kind of makes the soldiers you have at your disposal somewhat useless.
The cinematic moments are briliant. Some of them make extremely good use of music and sound effects - such as the beginning with Joan's screams on the stake that turn into the screams of a newborn, an effect which I found to be very interesting and nicely done - while others put visual effects to good use, such as the angel revelation scene. The map design makes everything even better, and the final "artistic" impression you're left with is a very good one.
Map Design: 5-
As I said, map design looks great. The author has a very personalized style which I personally find quite appealing, even though it relies on liberal use of gaia objects that some people might find exagerrated. The end result, as far as I see it, is a very harmonious one, it even showcases different seasons, and it contributes along with the soundtrack to creating a very nice and unique atmosphere I'll be looking forward to seeing more of in the actual campaign.
Most of us already know full well the story of Joan of Arc, but this is the first attempt that I know of to recount her story in AOK from its very beginning, along with the legend that surrounds, and has a lot more cinematic merit than the previous attempts. Also, it seems to be a much more personal and up-close take on Joan's life, and I personally hope that the author keeps it like this in the actual campaign.
The instructions screen looks very good and professional, and the bitmap would've looked good too if it had the right palette :)
I think Dark_Reign is off to a very good start here and I thoroughly recommend the download. I am very much looking forward to seeing how this project develops, and I am sure the complete version will build up on this very well done introduction, and add in some challenge to the mix.