After completing the demo, I thought OMG! This is the best RTS I've played in years! To me it was like a breath of fresh air. Indeed, game critics for years have been decrying the moribund state of the RTS, and how the whole paradigm has gotten kind of sterile. After playing the Hegemony demo though, I thought pleasingly that the RTS is far from dead and that Longbow with their many nice touches and innovations had given the whole RTS concept a new lease on life. I loved the nice interface that allows you to seamlessly go from an ultra-strategic down to a tactical view. Also, I thought the graphics and artwork were beautiful, especially for an Indy game. I really liked all the nice smaller touches as well, like being able to capture enemy troops and use them for slave labor. Above all, I've been waiting a long time for a good simulation of the Peloponnesian War, so when I found this game I thought it had my name written all over it. Also, I would add that I felt after playing the demo that the Hegemony system was a big improvement on the often plodding, clunky, and generally overrated 'Total War' series.
Alas, it seems after the demo ends the game gets many orders of magnitude more difficult. You are suddenly faced with having to handle multiple threats from multiple directions, and with limited forces to do so (sort of like Stonewall Jackson in the Valley ;o). In fact one raid on my mine carried off all my slaves and put my economy into instant severe deficit. Also, bad things seemed to happen and I was often left scratching my head as to why, like Philip being detached from the Companions after returning to Pella and my inability to get him to rejoin the companions. Of course this was happening at a time when I really needed them to counter a raid. Also, it could be a pain sometimes trying to figure out which units in a group had my leaders (without separating the individual units from the group). The bottom line seems to be that things can quite easily get out of hand in this game. Something I found very frustrating was as I recall at one point I was trying to micromanage a big battle in the West, and while this was happening I get a notification of a raid in the East. On a related note, it seems like static defenses don't work. When there is an attack on your territory you can't sit things out behind your walls, you have to sally forth and actively engage the invaders lest they devastate your farms and mines. Of course this can be problematic when you are already trying to manage a campaign in another area of the map. Gosh, if it is this tough when trying to regain control of Macedonia, I'm getting nightmares thinking of what it must be like trying to manage a really big empire in this game. I'm very sorry to say that had the demo gone on longer(into when things started getting tough), I probably would not have purchased it.
If the designers aren't careful, an RTS, especially, can be very susceptible to information overload. That is, too much going on at once, taxing the average gamers ability to adequately process all the information and act appropriately on it (even with the pause command). When that happens it ceases to be fun and becomes more like work. I hope this is not the case with Hegemony, though I fear it might be.
Anyway, I did order the boxed version with the manual when I purchased the game, and when it arrives in the mail I'll read it very thoroughly and then try to play the Philip scenario again. Also, I did note some of the suggestions in earlier posts like diplomacy. I sincerely hope though that this is not one of those games going in to the dust bin. I had high hopes for it. Hopefully things will start to click after reading the manual.