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July 11, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


Preview: Fatherdale: The Guardians of Asgard

Snowball Interactive





No monster, no demons, just plain people living (and dying) by the sword. Our full preview of Fatherdale awaits.

The Heroes, created by the Gods to protect the Ancient Artifacts of Knowledge and help rule the world, possess a sort of immortality. By being placed in the human form, these warriors fall prey to human emotions and frailties. When killed, Heroes are reborn, and slowly regain their previous memories and abilities, eventually leading to a fully restored identity. These are the Guardians.

In Fatherdale: The Guardians of Asgard, players take the role of a warlord in the northern section of Fatherdale mere days before the area becomes the "Battleground of Fate". From here, the story takes place, (in a historically researched and recreated 1072) and you become immersed in the world of Norse history. Fatherdale was a valley that housed many battles during this time period.

Fatherdale: The Guardians of Asgard is another in a growing line of games that will blend real-time strategy with role-playing. An extensively developed story looks to set this apart from the standard "strategic hack and slash" fare of a lot of RTS/RPG games. With more characters and back-story than you can shake a broadsword at, the world of Fatherdale is more extensive than meets the eye. Over 150 unique and individual characters will populate the land. Interaction with these digital denizens will also reflect the unique nature inherent in each NPC. No two NPCs are alike, with each having their own story to tell.

Throughout the (over 50) various locations, there will be exploring and protecting to be done on. Seven scenarios will be set up throughout these locations, which include: steppes, woods, swamps, plains, even the Keeps of the Guardians. Eventually, these will all lead up to the true and final battle against "The Enemy".

What RPG would be complete without some attributes to exploit and strengthen? Traditional RPG attributes, such as intelligence, dexterity, strength, endurance, and constitution, will be present. Being set in Norse history, some specific characteristics will be needed as well. Bravery, as well as other combat skills, including leadership and scouting, will help develop the player's abilities to survive the game.

Balancing the weapons is going to play an essential role in winning the battle. Rather than giving everybody the heaviest and strongest weapons (which wouldn't be realistic or appropriate), your task will be to find the right weapon or too to give to the right person. An old war veteran won't have much use for a bow, but will welcome the six foot broadsword. Your new female recruit won't be able to handle a crossbow, but might do well with a long bow.

Any RTS is, of course, only as good as the battle system, and Fatherdale looks to set itself apart in that department. By researching combat techniques from 1000 years ago, the developer plans to give gamers something of a history lesson as well as a next generation gaming experience. Fatigue will play a large part in the game. As the battle progresses, your warriors will grow weary. Having some in reserve is usually a good idea, but keeping them in reserve might prove harder than you think. Being set in Norse history, you should expect some characters to either panic or simply go berserk.

Weapons are created with the same attention to detail that is prevalent throughout the other aspects of the game. If a weapon is designed to be heavy in real life, expect the character to be weighted down as well. If a medium built person carries a heavy sword, they may not be able to carry a shield. If they carry a lighter sword, then it is possible the character might be able to carry a shield and live to see the next battle. Of course, heavier swords in the right hands could inflict more damage on the field of battle.

Trying to bring realism to a game such as this is a daunting task. One of the ways that the developer plans on doing this is through dialogue. Rather than having scripted "pat" phrases, the dialogue will be free flowing and real time, rather than scroll on for screens on end before anything can be said. The NPCs will travel around the game as well, going about their daily business (sort of like Shenmue). You can expect random encounters with people when you least expect it. Of course, people can't go about their business unless they know when to go, so an internal game clock will enable the hours to pass, and enable the day to turn into night.

Of course, night provides the best cover for sneaking around, and there will be the opportunity for sneaking up to people's houses in Fatherdale. The ability to ambush people under cover of darkness could prove a useful skill. Of course your vision will be limited in the dark as well. Beware.

Will Fatherdale: The Guardians of Asgard successfully recreate the feel of the Norse battlefield? We should know when the game is released sometime next year. Fatherdale may have been in development since 1996, but that isn't deterring the developer from taking the time to make sure the game come out right.

"One day in future, we will reach our Gods and face the enemy at their side, like the true Heroes always did. One day will be the day of Ragnarok. One day we will be given our last mercy. The last mercy for the last Heroes: death..."

Daniel "monk" Pelfrey
Norse God to the stars.

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