‘Blood at Thermopylae’ is a single scenario FF, based upon the famous historical battle, the Battle of Thermopylae, taking place during the Greco-Persian war of the early 5th century BC. The battle is one of the world’s most noted, and Greece’s most revered, occurring in 480 BC, twenty years into the new century, and ten years after the Battle of Marathon where Persia suffered a grave defeat. At Thermopylae seven thousand free Greeks stood united against some five hundred thousand Persians. The battle took place in what was known to Greek locals as the Gates of Fire, named for its natural hot spas, but more notably as Thermopylae, which means the same thing. Thermoplyae was a narrow pass where on one side arose the steep mountainside and on the other side the ocean. It was more than ideal to defend. Under King Leonidas, one of the two kings of Sparta, the Greeks mobilised at Thermoplyae where King Xerxes and his army was believed to be coming through, and waited. Xerxes and his powerful army did come through, and days of bloody fighting erupted. The Greeks could have held out indefinitely until the Persians were forced to abandon the battle due to the lack of supplies, had it not have been for betrayal. A Greek man by the name of Ephialtes was drawn forward by the bribe of Persian gold and informed the Persians of a goat pass leading around the seemingly impenetrable Greek lines. Realising that further fighting would be futile, King Leonidas sent back to southern Greece all but three hundred spartans and seven hundred Thespians and Thebans who refused to leave, hoping to hold the Persian advance for as long until death takes them. The story begins here, at the last stand made by King Leonidas and over one thousand brave Greeks, against half a million Persians from one of the greatest empire's known to man.
PLAYABILITY: (2.0) +
The scenario was overall enjoyable, fun to play and atmospheric with the dry, harsh design of the Greek pass of Thermopylae. However it lacked very much in the detail that I would have liked to see, and that would have certainly benefited into my enjoyment of things even more. Furthermore it took the enemy a full five minutes to attack me, which was inappropriate, and boring. However, things like reenacting the last stand of the Battle of Thermopylae with King Leonidas, and facing the overwhelming hordes of Persian conscripts kept my interest.
I played on hardest and it took five minutes for the enemy to attack me, and when they did, I was under some heavy fighting, needing to micromanage my units as to not be slaughtered, to overall slay the enemy general, Mardonius to win the game. Mardonius was slain, quite easily at that, most notably because he was always at the forefront of the fighting, which was unacceptable, meaning I did not have to fight my way through the mass of Persian troops to reach him. To have to fight my way to the Persian general would have been better since it did not take long for me to kill him and would have been a lot more challenging too.
CREATIVITY: (3.0) –
Things like the renaming of units, the scenario based on a historical event and the design of the pass of Thermoplyae helped factor into creativity. Other things like the Persian Immortals, led by the Greek traitor Ephialtes and the creative selection of units to represent the two very different cultures helped to factor into the rating this category has been awarded with. However, the Greeks did not use cavalry in the Battle of Thermopylae, nor did they for some hundreds of years until the Macedonians subjugated Greece in the 4th century BC.
MAP DESIGN: (3.0)
The map design was reasonably good, with an approach to what the Pass of Thermopylae may have looked like. There were plenty of cliffs forming the steep mountainsides of Thermopylae, and to convey the narrow pass that it is well known for. The Greek and Persian camp was included as well as the goat path the Immortals came down. However all of this lacks detail, terrain mixing and is overall unrealistic with its approach according to accounts of the location. Thermopylae back in the 5th century BC was very different to what the pass looks like today. The narrow pass was on one side blocked by the steep rise of mountains with the other side dropping into the gulf of Malis, the ocean. The pass was so narrow, that in fact it is said that only two chariots abreast could squeeze through. The scenario did not portray this.
STORY/ INSTRUCTIONS: (3.0)
There were few things that actually factored into this category, such as the small use of in game chat messages, but the reasonable detail of the account of the battle and the few hints including a good bitmap helped factor into a 3.0. There was no story, however as to be awarded something higher and there were many, many spelling mistakes. However, I do not deduct from an author whose mother language is not English, and which in this case, it is not.
While the scenario could have done with much, much more I personally enjoyed it primarily for its interpretation of the historical event. The scenario provides some inspiration for those looking to recreate the Battle of Thermopylae, and as such, I recommend its download, although the scenario is itself a weak portrayer of it.
In a word – Reasonable.
In closing – A recommended download for classical history enthusiasts.
[Edited on 02/16/07 @ 03:08 PM]