Elven Legacy: Ranger is an add-on for Elven Legacy; a hex-gridded turn-based strategy game with RPG elements and a fantasy setting. Gidzilla had the dubious honour of reviewing the original for Game Debate back in April, concluding that it had solid genre-specific gameplay at the expense of presentation, story telling, and originality. EL:R offers no advancement on that.
To market Elven Legacy: Ranger as an expansion is slightly misguiding. By the strictest definitions of the word it technically does expand on the original game but nothing has significantly changed since Elven Legacy. Rather than refining gameplay and presentation, EL:R leaves such frivolity well alone in favour of giving us what's essentially a campaign mod.
In the new 16-mission campaign your primary named character is Cornelius, a ranger acting on behalf of the Order Of Marcus to find a new place to set up home for his exiled chums. Rather than flicking through the ads in his local paper he sets sail for Illis to see if there's any land that nobody happens to be using. At this point some fighting occurs, as it frequently does in places where everyone is armed to the teeth and can make you explode in a ball of flame at a moment's notice. If only Cornelius had gone to a reputable estate agent he would have been warned about these problem areas.
The story is alright in truth but at this point we've all seen every dark fantasy plot device before and the bar has been set quite low for contrived explanations of who we need to kill next and why. EL:R does away with the voice acting of the original, leaving just dialogue box after dialogue box. The voice acting in Elven Legacy wasn't worth writing home about but it did show that the developers had made an effort and it inspired an effort from the player to give a damn about the story. Without it it's just far too tempting to skip through every muted line and use the mission objective menu to gather the minimum amount of information required to proceed. The only voice acting in EL:R is in the tutorial which is entirely lifted from the original game; still proudly displaying the hilarious bug that causes each line of dialogue to play before the one before it has ended.
In Gidzilla's Elven Legacy review he mentioned that it was a difficult game due to the the tight turn limits and potential for your most experienced units to become sacrificial lambs, leaving you in big trouble for the next mission. His assessment was spot on and nothing has changed in EL:R. You will lose missions and you will make use of the frequent autosaves but the real challenge I had was caring enough to want to retry each bland, frustrating, cookie-cutter mission that I failed.
Elven Legacy: Ranger is for people who love the fantasy genre, love turn-based strategy, and – most importantly – love Elven Legacy. I don't know about you but I don't score three out of three. Even so, I think that if I had any emotional investment in the series I'd be pretty irritated by this release and the two further expansions to follow in the next few months. For them to come so soon after Elven Legacy was published it would suggest that 1C and Paradox have had the add-ons planned for quite some time. If that is the case then do we have an example of exceptional post-launch support for a game or three examples of money grabbing for content that should have been in Elven Legacy in the first place? There are no notable improvements in EL:R and bugs from the original game remain unfixed so I find it hard to justify even £7.95 for this mission pack. If, however, you couldn't get enough of Elven Legacy and would give your last mana pot for more then Elven Legacy: Ranger has been made exclusively for you.