BLADESTORM: Nightmare - Xbox One

Release Date:

20 March 2015

Also on:

Xbox One PC PS3 PS4

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.


In Bladestorm: Nightmare, players can freely switch between the French and British sides of the conflict, controlling a variety of different troop types, and interacting with heroes like Joan of Arc and Edward the Black Prince along the way. A tavern serves as the base of operations where gamers can hire special soldiers and purchase new equipment, and once they head into battle they can command as many as four different squads simultaneously. The new Nightmare mode finds the British and French ceasing their hostilities and joining forces to battle hordes of hideous monsters like dragons, griffons, and cyclops.

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'Bladestorm: Nightmare' was developed by the team at Omega Force and published by Koei. The title is a repackaged/re-release of the original game 'Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War'. The guys at Omega Force promised a title that offered more of what everyone loved in a refined package that utilised the powers of the next generation of consoles. We love alternate history video games and we have a soft spot in our hearts for these crazy action button mashers so we couldn't wait to throw the title into our console in order to see how it fared.

'Bladestorm: Nightmare' is roughly based on the 100 Years War. The title opens up with two mercenaries dueling each other amidst a battle consisting of both French and English soldiers. The two warriors trade verbal barbs back and forth and discuss, almost poetically, the nature of time and war. These are two lead mercenaries who don't believe in the morality of what they are doing, and they feel completely open to changing sides as it suits them. This opening bout sort of sets the tone for the game going forward. While there will be many times that you take up arms in the story during real life events, most of the time you feel like just another soldier killing what is put in front of him.

The war that the aforementioned mercenaries are fighting in is the 100 Years War. This war, which consisted of many different wars, lasted from 1337 all the way until 1453 and it was engaged primarily between the English and the French. Notable heroes were produced during this long war and some of the most popular ones were Joan of Arc and Edward the Black Prince. The wars served to inspire the culture of both sides, having a direct influence on the works of William Shakespeare.

The original 'Bladestorm' release was a cult classic when it hit consoles everywhere. Despite how much people loved the PS3 title, it was still largely ignored in the mainstream. The game didn't sell too well and despite the vocal minority wanting a sequel, many thought that it would be forgotten. So when Koei Tecmo announced that they were re-releasing the game as an HD remaster, with an added bit of story, fans everywhere were shocked. What did we do to deserve this?

Despite being a remaster, 'Nightmare' controls much like any other game in the Koei Tecmo library. You are sent into a large battlefield as one primary warrior. There are seas of computerised soldiers fighting all around you and you weave in between them, looking for the blood of your next enemy. The wrinkle that 'Nightmare' has is that you are more of a leader this time around rather than a brutal soldier. So you will spend a lot of time commanding soldiers and leading them into battle, rather than simply trying to destroy everything on your own. It's not a massive difference, especially for those familiar with the 'Dynasty Warriors' games, but it is noticeable.

Being as this is a game of knights and swords there are many different, interesting soldiers that you will take into battle under your mercenaries command. The fact that you are actually bossing them around is huge, so you will have to pay attention to their various strengths. Your soldiers will range from swordsmen and knights all the way to Elephants, specialised Mongol Archers, and scouts who deal death with knives only. These are cool little twists on the standard pike wielding soldiers that the other 'Warriors' games made so popular. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses and setting them up to win in battle can go a long way toward improving the speed with which you win, or lose, in a match.'

The biggest thing that we loved about 'Bladestorm: Nightmare' was how earnest the team was in trying to develop an authentic medieval atmosphere. The villages and cities that you roll through look almost like they were pulled from the pages of history books. Seeing a phalanx of knights charge across an open field, with an old city in the background, gave the history nerd in us a moment of complete glee. The textures of these moments, when you are up close, look absolutely fantastic. The PS4 upgraded the system that 'Bladestorm' ran on for the PS3 and everything looks shinier and more authentic then before. That isn't to say that there weren't problems with the presentation.

One of the biggest issues that Koei Tecmo runs into is the fact that their aspirations grow larger than their systems can handle. That is to say, in the biggest battles you will be able to 'see' the whole map. But you are actually seeing tons of rendering tricks put in place to help the game load. So things get lost in translation and as a result your big battles begin to feel small and almost claustrophobic. Cut scenes too struggled with this issue. When we would go from a huge battlefield with hundreds of enemies into a cutscene, we would suddenly lose half of our background and it would be pretty jarring at least for a moment.

When the battles are up close and personal and your mercenary is in the thick of things commanding, the game feels revitalised and powerful. There is something pretty special about hacking away at your enemies as you command your troops behind you, before galloping off to do the same thing somewhere else. We felt like Maximus in 'Gladiator' or Aragorn in 'Lord of the Rings'.

Most of your time will be spent playing the campaign in this game, and you can bring along a friend for the ride. You will adventure through a rough approximation of the 100 Years War with a few pitstops at notable battles. You can even save Joan of Arc from burning at the stake. There are some supernatural elements that we will leave for a surprise. On the whole, we felt that 'Bladestorm: Nightmare' on the PlayStation 4 was a capable action/slasher.

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