Review: A Few Minutes of Glory21 Feb 2019 0
Review: A Few Minutes of Glory
Released 04 Feb 2019
As high concepts go, a text-based real-time strategy game might not sound like the most obvious of mash-ups. A Few Minutes of Glory may look like it dates back to the dawn of the computer age but it is still an intriguing proposition. First of all, you build a medieval army by gathering and spending resources. When you are confident that your army is strong enough, you send them into battle against the AI controlled opposing force. It may sound like Age of Empires without the graphics but each game only lasts for a maximum of four minutes, even less if you play in fast mode. The victor is the first side to earn ten glory points or to have the most glory when the time runs out.
There are four resource-generating buildings, which produce food, wood, gold and stone. Food is needed for basic military units, wood for ranged units, gold is required for advanced military units and stone can be used to construct defensive structures. You may also use wood to build new production buildings, the snag being that the cost increases with each new building. Each production building will produce one resource every second.
Players begin the game with access to five randomly determined military units. To construct one of these units simply tap the box next to it and pay the relevant resources. You will then need to deploy the new unit to either an offensive or defensive role. Constructing walls and towers can further enhance defensive capabilities. Units fall into one of three overriding categories; infantry, ranged and cavalry. There are a total of fifteen different units, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the more eclectic types include camels that are great at giving enemy cavalry the hump and monks who have the ability to convert enemy units.
Before battle commences the attacking force has the opportunity to ransack the local countryside for some additional resources. Next up is the combat screen, which displays a breakdown of the opposing forces. In each round of combat, units attack in order of their initiative values and will target a randomly determined enemy unit. The chances of success are calculated by comparing attack strength against the defending unit’s armour rating. There is a handy reference list of all of the units and their initiative attack and defensive values. If the attacking side wins then they are awarded two glory points, whilst a defensive victory only earns one point of glory. After a battle, the attacker has to wait around thirty seconds before they are allowed to initiate another assault, which gives their opponent a bit of time to recover. If either side is vastly outnumbered then they will get a substantial fury bonus added to their attacks. As further consolation, the production buildings of the losing side will be increased by one level because a fear of further defeat makes the population work even harder.
If the timer runs down to zero before either side has managed to earn ten glory points then a final mass battle takes place. The defensive and offensive units on both sides join together, with the winning side earning between two to six points of glory. The potential to earn so much glory in a single confrontation can swing the entire battle.
As the saying goes, one battle does not win a war. The ultimate goal in A Few Minutes of Glory is to win the war by being victorious in ten consecutive battles. After every successful fight, you will have access to a new power; these include resource building upgrades and improved units. Beware though, because a single defeat will bring your civilization crashing down and you will have to start all over again.
I have regularly settled down for a game of A Few Minutes of Glory, hoping that something would click. Unfortunately, I always came away feeling that I was missing something. On paper, the interplay between the abilities of the different units sounds intriguing. However, it often feels like you are poking around in the dark, throwing your limited choice of troops into battle without any real idea of how things are going to turn out. The presentation is so sparse that I could not shake the feeling that I was just toying with a spreadsheet. It is a criticism that has been leveled at the Football Manager games, but at least then the smart presentation and licensing agreements managed to hide this from the player’s view.
In a world of endless sequels and thinly disguised copycat releases, I admire the developer for trying to create something different. I like how the rules try and give a thematic reason for the design decisions. For instance, the inflationary cost of production buildings is explained in terms of the increasing scarcity of available land. I like the variety of units, the fast pace and the tough challenge (even the game’s developer cannot beat the AI on the hardest difficulty level).
Unfortunately, A Few Minutes of Glory feels like an intriguing concept transformed into a pretty dull game. It amounts to watching your resources increase and then clicking on boxes to purchase units. The decisions never feel interesting or involved and it soon becomes repetitive. The heart of A Few Minutes of Glory is the battles and these really need to be represented in a more satisfying way than just a scrolling list. The results flash by so quickly that it fails to build any sense of tension. I don’t expect fancy graphics; a little atmospheric flavour text describing the flow of battle would have done the job. As it stands, the battles feel very anticlimactic. Calculations are made, numbers flash across the screen and then you are told whether you have won or lost. It is then back to gathering more resources, buying more units and doing the whole thing all over again.