LGR – Liberty or Death – DOS PC Game Review
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LGR – Liberty or Death – DOS PC Game Review

December 2, 2019

[typing] One thing about games that really intrigues me
from time to time is the exploration of theme. Especially regarding national holidays. You have game talking about Christmas and Halloween, even Easter every so often. But one that really get ignored, other than maybe a movie game
here and there, is Independence Day. You could see why. It’s not exactly a game-like holiday and it’s only in America. And I’m sorry to say, we don’t have an
Independence Game today either, but it’s definitely one that
brings about some interesting ideas of intense patriotism. Liberty or Death. Developed and published by Koei
Corporation in 1993 for MS-DOS PCs as well as the NEC PC-98,
Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. And by Jove, I do say that this is the
single-most American box cover I’ve ever seen. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, the original 13 colony seals, a skewed version of the
Francis Hopkinson American flag– Augh! It’s glorious! All it needs is a few more extra patriotic
symbols of undying freedom and, man, you’ve got yourself the most independent
example of gaming box art excellence known to the Republic for which it stands, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all! Too bad the back of the box is boring with only a few bland-looking screenshots and
predictable marketing blurbs scattered around. On the other hand, inside the box– well, just feast your eyes on this baby. A respectably-sized poster
of that wildly patriotic box art sure to instill unreasonable feelings of
lopsided nationalism wherever it’s displayed. You also get the game on a
freedom-loving 5¼” floppy disk a 72-page manual covering
craploads of gameplay information and revolutionary historical factoids, and a reference card that tells you how to lose, which is always useful if you’re playing the Brits. Liberty or Death begins with a
liberated intro featuring a dead guy. A rather famous dead guy, Patrick Henry, and his famous “give me liberty
or give me death” speech from which the game gleans titular inspiration. And man, that’s some upbeat music
for such a sobering speech. [upbeat march] Ah, who says “war is hell?” It’s obviously much more of a carnival filled with laughter and cotton candy. Once you’re done taking in the
delightfully dithered EGA graphics, it’s time for some menus. Start a new game and choose
who you want to play against, and immediately you’re picking sides. Americans defend, British attack, but either way, you’re going to be picking a commander-in-chief from a selection of three on each side. They all have unique stats divided into
leadership, tactics, discipline and reputation, and in theory, each of them are capable
of leading your chosen faction to victory. But of course, there are some difficulty and game details to choose from that make this even more customizable. So pick some stuff and prepare to
liberate the dookie out of everything. You begin on July 1, 1775. And in classic American fashion, the first order of business is setting a
budget that you will inevitably screw up in the name of making things better for the people. Each season of the game, you’ll get
more cash from those that are still alive, but obviously you want to stretch your funding
as much as possible in the meantime because war… war never changes. The American Revolutionary War
in this case lasted until 1783, and Liberty or Death places you smack-dab
in the middle of managing the bloodshed. It plays similarly to various turn-based
strategy and war games of the time period, especially those from Koei’s historical
simulation series, of which this is a part of, alongside Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Nobunaga’s Ambition and Genghis Khan. The idea is that you focus on managing districts,
units and your economy most of the time, and every so often a skirmish will break out
and you’ll move over to Battle Mode to do that. Winning these battles is key to succeeding, and managing your districts and cashflow
are key to creating successful armies, so it’s a self-feeding loop of thinking
multiple steps ahead with every move. The number of options is
downright overwhelming at first, even if you’re familiar with war games in general. [chuckles]
Or war games in lieutenant. [sighs]
Sorry, it’s a bad joke. Moving on. Yeah, anyway, it’s got a bunch of junk to do
and it’s not always apparent what does what, even when constantly referring to the manual. This is one of those games where losing a lot in the
beginning is probably the most useful thing you can do. Sorry, 18th-century Americans, learning how to play this game
made your deaths a worthy sacrifice. So once you figure it out, is it any good? Ehhh, it’s not exactly what
I’d call truly satisfying to play, but it’s definitely got its strong points. One of those is as a thinly-veiled learning tool,
Liberty or Death is outstanding. In my eyes, the best way to learn
is when you don’t realize you’re learning. Tons of so-called edutainment games fail at this, and then you have something like
Liberty or Death that pulls it off effortlessly. Playing the American side and then the British side really shows how massively the deck
was stacked against the 13 colonies and how terrifying it must have been
to be an American revolutionary back then. And then the sheer economic and
militaristic power of the British is a blessing as much as it is a curse to play with because you feel a sense of
complacency playing as them. It’s like you’re so big you can’t fall, but then you realize it’s not that simple due to the tactics and loyalty and planning
required to amass an effective British invasion force. Dealing with other international interests
complicates things as well, with the French, Dutch and Spanish
all making demands and taking sides. That’s not even including all the spying, bribing and
propaganda you have to utilize in order to gain support and draft enough soldiers to wage war with. The battles themselves are a tad simple, though, with most of the work being in the preparation. Each map is divided into a grid, with each
square representing a specific type of terrain. There are varying unit types that do varying unit things, like stabbing dudes with bayonets
and building makeshift bridges. But mostly battles just consist of clicking around
to move your dudes on top of other dudes and then watching the numbers dwindle. I was most disappointed with this aspect of the game, but again, it’s effective in portraying the
idea of how this particular war was fought. Just be sure to keep your commander-in-chief safe because if he’s captured, then you automatically lose, and have to either restart or watch the computer play the game better than you. Yeah, it’s bad enough that you lost,
but then to have the computer show you how it’s done– Yeah, that’s downright un-American. And that is Liberty or Death, a game about the USA that let’s you
destroy the USA before it becomes the USA. Pretty awesome, actually–at least in regards to the idea and the amount of stuff it lets you do. But much like with Mary, Queen of Scots,
the execution is a little off. It doesn’t quite make the cut for my
personal list of must-play war games, but it’s definitely worth grabbing and playing if you’re into massive amounts of
focused historical context in your games, especially the Revolutionary War
because that’s all this is. Much like America itself, I like this and I’m glad it’s there, though I don’t always love it, but I accept it for what it is. [classical MIDI music] And if you enjoyed this video, and would perhaps like to see some more
classic DOS games and other stuff, well, you’re on the right channel. LGR is all about that and more because I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. I just like making videos. And if you like this style,
then why not click some of these, or subscribe to be notified
whenever they happen in the future, which is Mondays and Fridays. And you can always follow and interact with me on Twitter and Facebook
for other stuff throughout the week, as well as support the show on
Patreon to see videos early and more. And as always, thank you very much for watching.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. 1:07 you just made america great again without building any walls or changing immigration policy. Run for overlord.

  2. Have you played Colonization? It's a game from Sid Meir, came after Civilization but it based on the settling of America (or a randomly generated land) with the player eventually going for independence from their parent European power. Highly recommend.

  3. Patriotic American game.
    Based on the game "Nobunaga's Ambition" from Toei, inspired by the Japanese feudal wars.

  4. It annoys me that such a "historically accurate" game used the newer version of the Union Jack, adopted in 1801 after the annexation of Ireland (the rest of Ireland, i.e. not northern ireland, seceded from the UK), AKA after the American Revolution.

  5. A Beretta 92 when shouting "America"? Really? Blah! Where is the Colt 1911!
    Yea, yea, we use that stupid gun now, but really, nothing beats a good ol' American .45… sigh…
    Side note, love the channel, love that you put effort into this, I have your playlists on a loop while I'm benchmarking! 🙂

  6. Pfff you guys got lucky that the french where kicking off otherwise it would have ended rather differently (sits at pc eating a pork pie)

  7. the Snes version is more well in presentation and there are some untis animations when attack, but dont havee all generals to pick

  8. In more recent times, you got at best AOE III which I think was American made, the rest, were I think Ukranian made America Fight Back, and the French AGEOD Birth of America.

  9. I thought the game was called liberty of death, and was a really interesting concept about suicide and euthanasia. Oh well.

  10. When I think of Koei, I automatically think of Dynasty Warriors over their more strategy-based games like Kessen and ROT3K. Would love to tear up a battlefield DW-style as George Washington and Ben Franklin, doing sick air combos and stuff.

  11. Lol I'm currently playing ROTK XIII and I never knew that Koei had actually developed and released a game about the American war for independence.

  12. Since you just shared this..
    I'm not even a fan of RTS games but this looks good ol' MERICAN and doesn't look terrible. Id play it.

    (For some reason 'id' autocorrected to US so yeah, M E R I C I A)

  13. Clint, enjoy your time off! This video is one of the most well-made scripted vids I have ever seen for a game review!! Well done, my good man!

  14. LGR this is why your channel is awesome. I payed total war empire, shogun and Attila and never knew the drew inspiration from this series. And now they’re coming out with three kingdoms. That ain’t no coincidence.

  15. Liberty or Death is what D.Peter the First, King of Brasil shouted on a hill when he declared Independence

  16. I got this on SNES recently…and traded it back in (to get Shadowrun SNES) a week later. I love the idea, but in practice the learning curve is just too steep and there isn't enough "flare" to the gameplay to make it worth the time spent on the tedious aspects…especially on a console. If I give this another shot, it will be on DOS emulator.

  17. The DOS version is the first release of this game. Later the console releases came, the best of which is the SNES version. The console version is a little more streamlined, the interface is better, and the graphics are more detailed over the DOS version. Give the SNES version a try and you should have more fun with it. I still play it every now and then even to this day.

  18. Since so few of the comments bother talking about the game, let me be the first to say that if you like the old Koei style, you'll love LoD. That said, it takes real commitment to get through it. There's a lot to manage, and it's incredibly difficult.

    Just make sure Nathanael Greene is around the most hotly contested areas. That guy is a monster.

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