"Campaña del General Belisario - The Belisarius Campaign" is a campaign that suffers from a consistency problem, which i think is because over the course of this fairly lengthy campaign the designer increased his skills;this results in the games getting better as you progress, yet the player will experience the worst first which rather diminishes the whole experience considerably.
The campaign starts off with a somewhat awkward cinematic scenario which sets up future developments;its rather simple in how it deals with some barbarians as first the commander wants to kill them all then moments later manages to make them join his side effortlessly.
Later on we go through a mixture of B&D and fixed force, with a few segments resembling a very primitive DTS gameplay. What didn't change over the campaign is the great simplicity of enemy attacks;often they are tasked to some point in your base, or outside your walls, and they don't really post any threat and are barely capable of a coordinated, threatening game. Though the missions pick up slightly in the last half of the campaign, most of the missions are suffering from an extremely slow pacing with little happening;mission four takes place on an enormous sized map and is actually short in terms of gameplay.
With an overall simplicity in game mechanics, combined with slow pacing, and borderline broken difficulty or lack thereof i am going in for the very low playbility of a 2. I was bored stiff and won on autopilot, literally so in far too many missions. Mission 7 was fun and quite a nice mission, but too little and too late.
The game balance was a mixed bag, with most levels coming in at beginner level easy. Only one level bucked this trend, by being insanely hard and tedious to the point i skipped it, mission three. I suppose with infinite patience even this level is doable by lure tactics, but i wasnt in the mood to lure hundreds of enemies with my single Belisarius hero and heal in a castle constantly.
Picking up in scenario 2 your heavy pikemen have 85 HP and +5 attack, and the persians attack with only some light cavalry. Later on you can just attack the enemy camp head on and not lose troops even if you don't micro much, and in the siege battle the persians don't actually attack;they just sit outside the walls and get hit by towers. Alternatively you can just leave your men on defensive where the persians attack, and win automatically as your force is stronger. To finish the mission off, there is only 9 eastern swordsmen defending the persian town, and your cataphract hero and other units wont have any issues slaying these.
In scenario 3, it was absurdly bad in the other direction. The city is jam packed with mobs of units who swarm your hero, and the only tactic is to lure a few, kill them, and hop into the palace to heal;which apparently is the intended tactic to use, as that AI has Herbal Medicine researched.
Scenario 4 was more reasonable, with the enemy troops putting up a decent fight. The enemies did launch some scripted raids on the town, and you were carefully limited in your selection of buildings and troops, needing to rely on weak levies to protect your elite troops.
The finale seemed quite well balanced, and i might say its very difficult even. I used monks to convert up a large force of the infinitly spawning hun raiders, and i might say this leans toward the side of too difficult playing as the scenario seems to intend;but perhaps a force of pikemen and skirms would be sufficient to hold. The enemies seem to spawn a bit too frequently but overall its the best of the seven. At one point i figured out where the enemies were spawning from and put some units or buildings on the tiles to prevent it.
As the campaign finishes, the last missions are the closest to being acceptably balanced, with the enemies putting up resistance at last and even attacking the player camp. However even on Hard i do find it to be a complete cakewalk;perhaps for beginner players it would be acceptable. Enemies are very passive on defense, making any offensive siege operations so easy because the player can train reinforcements while the AI sits with weak, unupgraded men. I did just come off playing many of the HD campaigns and i would say overall this campaign ranks far below them in difficulty, so i will go in for the 2\5 here.
The game was well varied over its 7 mission length, with an intro cinematic, and many gameplay types often on the same map, with B&D, FF, and DTS present, though in fairly simple forms at times. The levels themselves often had a good try at limiting the players options to present a crafted gameplay experience, though for issues of lack of difficulty or too large maps the gameplay did suffer nonetheless. There was a goodly amount of effort invested into making a good story with substantial dialogue, although due to language translation issues its quality suffered. The progression of mapping quality throughout the campaign convinces me the author was playing high rated games in between making levels, and was picking up techniques seen in many other community scenarios, which is a very good habit. In summary i believe the author put in a good effort to make a nice campaign, and its failings are primarily due to a lack of execution in other technical areas.
Map Design 3
The mapping skills shown in the campaign are following in the common theme of starting off quite weak then picking up substantially towards the tail end. Missions 1 through 4 were poor with random object placement and a lack of detailing, but missions 5, 6, and 7 were beginning to look quite fine with broken up forests, detailed countrysides, good terrain mixing especially alongside roads;these last two missions are aesthetically pleasing which made the games much more enjoyable. There are still many plain spots however and the cities and villages are never more than mediocre. Its also a bit random still with gaia objects, with broken roman ruins typically just getting in the way without a deep thought to their placement. There are also times when forests have been placed with the terrain tool despite having the scattered appearance;this creates odd spots of leaf terrain all over the place. In the end the author demonstrates good talent for map design and can surely improve greatly in the future.
The campaign brought a nice storyline to the table, taking the player on a journey as Belisarius on a tale of conquest and betrayal. There was plenty of ingame dialogue to accompany and explain events as they happened. The objectives were clear and straightforward throughout, and i didn't run into any issues fulfilling them. The hints and scouts report were filled out as you would expect out of a good scenario, and provided adequate insight into the game.
Unfortunately the biggest problem here is the translation. Its often on the level of google translate, and nearly every dialogue and line of text in the game probably needs to be rewritten from scratch by a solid english speaker. Although i tend to be forgiving about translations, and even play some scenarios in other languages that i cannot understand, in this campaign its too much to avoid giving it a -1 for this.
Final Thoughts:A slow paced campaign that is perhaps best for beginners, the last few missions are the best though you would miss much of the storyline by skipping to these.