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Posted on Jun 20, 2004 in Electronic Games

Celtic Kings: Rage of War – Retro Review (PC)

Jim H. Moreno


Celtic Kings: Rage of War is presented in standard RTS fashion, with a handy Pause function, and just a smidgeon of role-playing elements included for flavor. The Tutorial allows you to guide the young Larax through learning controls and basic features of play. Larax can be seen again in the Adventure, as you assist him in defeating the Teutonic and Roman forces in order to save the Gaul nation.

The Single Player mode has enough Settings to keep gameplay from being too boring, at least for a while. To start, choose to play either the Gaul or Roman side, choose a starting Bonus (more starting gold or a magical item), and choose the number of Teams. From there, you can move to tweaking the map settings, through size (small, normal, or huge), type (coastal, island, small islands, large islands, mountainous, continent, or Mediterranean), and Game type (elimination, score limit, or time limit). You may also set your preference for the world population, your starting gold, the game speed, and the season of play.


The RTS factors include maintaining control over food and gold by protecting villages, outposts and strongholds, both the ones you start with and the ones you manage to capture from neutral and enemy forces. Gold is used for training your military, upgrading structures (you cannot build new ones), and hiring Heroes. Food is used to feed units housed in structures and in the field. Military units on the march take a set amount of food with them, and when that runs out, will begin to lose health. They will need to move close to where food is stored in order to replenish their supply and health.

The Hero (or Heroes) is perhaps the most important unit in Celtic Kings. A force of up to 50 units may be attached to each Hero, allowing them toshare in any experience gained by the Hero. Heroes also allow their troops to form either a line, block, or horse wings formation for added tactical advantage, as well as receiving an additional fighting bonus with the stand ground order. There is just enough of a variety of fighting units to offer a challenge at first, until you learn how to quickly create and train the best units.

As mentioned earlier, structures cannot be built, but can be upgraded for added military or civilian benefit. They cannot be destroyed, but can be damaged enough to become inoperative, requiring repairs. Similar structures are found for both the Gauls and Romans: town hall, blacksmith, barracks, an arena, druid house/temple, tavern, and village hall and house. Other structures may also be found scattered around the game map, such as outposts, shipyards, caves, Teuton tents, wells, Stonehenge, and ruins.


Gameplay is either in a locked close-up, top-down isometric view, or in a zoomed-out view of the entire map, with or without the fog-of-war, accessed by pressing the Space Bar. Clicking on buildings will show details about it, like food and gold stored, units housed within, and condition. Clicking on Heroes and units will show their names, level, remaining food and health, and commands, such as formations (for Heroes) and Build Catapult (for units). Hotkeys allow quick movement from place to place, much faster than scrolling, and allow you to quickly select your healthiest fighters from a formation. I found the interface to be so easy that I could play almost an entire session in either the close-up view or from the map view.


Celtic Kings should run with no problem on today’s computers. There’s nothing here spectacular, but everything is done in fine detail, from buildings to armor, and even to the animals that roam the lands. If you have it, play it on 1024×768; you’ll miss a lot of the detail otherwise. I never encountered any lag in play, either, no matter how many units I could stuff onto the screen at a time.

The sound is also very well done here, from clashing swords to the eagles’ cry. The voice acting given to the individual units impressed me the most. Each is done in a fitting dialect and accent, well enough so to make the Gauls’ women warriors sound rather sexy.


Solid, all the way ?round. There are settings that allow you to play a normal, defensive, or attacking session, and the enemy AI will match your play style effectively. I found the defensive play to be the most challenging for single player mode. In all instances, be wary of picking fights, or wandering into enemy territory alone or ill-equipped, as enemy units and rabid wolves will chase you across the entire map!


While the Single Player and Adventure modes are good, they will lose their luster after some time. The Multiplayer mode in Celtic Kings is why you should get the game, anyway. Although it’s old by game standards, finding skilled human opponents was no problem, either through the message boards or with the supported GameSpy function. Additionally, players can chat with each other using the included feature, and may bring more depth to the game by engaging in Diplomacy actions.

Historical Context:

The Gauls (Celts) have no known written record about themselves. All that is known about them has come from the accounts of those whom they met. The majority of that knowledge comes from Roman history and the historians Livy, Plinus, Tacitus, Diodorus Siculus, and Caesar himself.

Celtic Kings: Rage of War does a very good job of subtly capturing what is known about the Gauls and including it into the game. The game seems to be set in the days when the Roman Empire was in its fledgling days, and just coming to know about the Gauls. The Celtic way of life is well portrayed here, from their barbaric military forces to their agragarian lifestyle, even to their druidic religious beliefs. Caesar and the famed Celtic leader Vercingetorix even make an appearance in the Adventure that hints at their later battle at Avaricum.

One thing I did find missing from the game is the Celt’s habit of taking the heads of their fallen enemies and displaying them on pikes, but perhaps that’s just as well. Surrounding structures and chanting in order to capture it was a nice addition in accordance with the Celt’s history; a good break from just razing a place and then having to build over it. Still unsure why this tactic was also included for the Romans, though.

General’s Rating:

I don’t think this would be very interesting to a hardcore grognard, simply because of its RTS play. However, this is definitely a game I would recommend to introduce someone into the world of computer wargaming. Celtic Kings: Rage of War has a simple learning curve, but can bring a challenge on its own. Against another human adversary, the game still manages to outshine its price tag. Pick this one up and give it a go before playing the next game in the series, Celtic Kings: Nemesis of the Roman Empire.

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1 Comment

  1. I have a question how tobuy hastati when the enimies are in you base and no one have a healer to heal?


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