Turns out you can judge a book by a cover. Or in this case, a game. There's something disheartening about a game distributed by a company called ValuSoft, with a logo reminiscent of Wal-Mart. The same people who brought us the abysmal 'Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh Trail'. Don't worry if you haven't heard of it - no one did. And even less people played it.
Now ValuSoft has turned their medusa-like gaze upon the RTS genre, and 'Battle for Troy' is the progeny of the unholy consummation between ValuSoft and Zono. 'Troy' actually isn't that horrible (it's still pretty horrible though) of a game, although it's nowhere near a good one. There's a lot of promising elements in the game they're stifled by shoddy execution.
As you might imagine, the game allows you to play as the Greeks or Trojans in a RTS setting. Standard resource harvesting/management has been eschewed in favour of key villages. Every village you seize provides you with a set amount of gold every minute, and it's imperative you defend these villages, or lose your gold. In addition, you can gain gold by slaying your enemies. With your valuable gold you can purchase additional troops to support your war effort. Unfortunately, with your number of units, defending these villages often means you don't have enough troops to complete the mission. Enemies frequently come out of nowhere to attack your towers, making it impossible to set up a single choke point to protect multiple villages.
Both sides have essentially the same handful of units, as well as access to some supernatural ones such as skeleton warriors and cyclops'. You also get to field a couple of heroes who are a step above regular units. In what could have been a good addition, surviving units can gain experience and move to the next mission. However, the loss rate is pretty high, and the only to preserve a unit is to keep it out of the fighting. The unit limits are usually pretty low, and holding elements back can lead to disaster. Like so many others in the game, this particular concept fails.
The control scheme is very frustrating and makes it impossible to effectively command your troops. To begin with, the mouse is far too sensitive, flying across the screen at unimaginable speeds. Aside from spending the first few minutes of the game uncontrollably flying around the mini-map, you'll also find it difficult to accurately click buttons. Don't worry though - acclimatization is rather quick. The problem with this is when you quit the game and drop back to the desktop. It's hard to adjust to the pace of reality and your mouse seems to crawl to its next destination. It's a very odd experience, and it's hard to properly explain.
Regardless, there are other issues with control. Selecting a group of units and then issuing orders them often results in a re-centering of the screen far away from battle. Other problems persist and the game is made worse by the horrible unit movements. There's no formations for soldiers, and it's hard to group them in close quarters. They travel in a strung out formation. The inevitable result is that the lead elements of your column will engage the enemy first, while other units plod forward. By the time they arrive, the lead elements are dead, and the superior enemy force proceeds to slaughter your soldiers as they show up for work. Staging your troops in a central point doesn't work either - as they split up almost immediately after the order to move out. To make matters even worse, after a frustrating struggle to group your dim-witted soldiers, expect several of them to be lured off in different directions after glimpsing an enemy. As you might expect, they tend to be lured into hordes of battle-crazed soldiers. It's entirely possible that you'll return to a waiting group of soldiers to see almost all of them killed off individually, and the surviving members standing around with idiotic grins on their face.
Issues such as this make it almost impossible to accurately control your troops and do any damage. The enemy isn't much better, but they have the added advantage of being deployed in roving bands to pick off your obtuse soldiers. So it's usually a war of attrition, or failing that, a war of playing catch-up-so-we-can-get-killed-one-by-one. There's no strategy involved in the game. The best bet is to buy as many troops as you can and rush em all at the enemy, and hope things work out for the best. They usually don't, as so many defective elements combine to make even the simplest of battles perilous. To top everything off, in a ludicrous decision, there's no ability to save during a mission. This makes the game almost impossible to play. First, it's a struggle to complete even one task correctly, and it's almost a statistical impossibility that you'll string several of these together to complete a mission on the first try. Infuriating.
As for the good stuff, there's a good concept behind the game. The Trojan War always gets ignored, and it's fun to see heroes like Achilles striding around the battlefield. The graphics aren't great, but they're enjoyable in a cute-ish kind of way. It's up to you whether 'cute' is a good thing.
The lack of multi-player is an excellent feature of the game, as this way a copy of the game can only infect one individual. Very socially responsible of ValuSoft. Do yourself a favour, and stay very far away from this 'game'. There are some good ideas and concepts tucked away in there, but none of them survived to see the light of day. It's a pity, as with some decent work on the interface and AI this could have been an entertaining game. 'Could have been' is the operative phrase here folks. This is $20 better spent flushed down your toilet.