If you liked the battle scenes in Braveheart, you will absolutely love Bladestorm, the newest release from KOEI, maker of the Dynasty Warrior series.

You get to take on the role of a mercenary who can choose whichever side will pay you the most. Set in the Hundred Years War, you can opt for the English or the French, depending on your particular allegiance in any given skirmish. The soldiers are numerous and convincingly depicted. Hordes of armor-coated minions come at you and your chosen cohorts in waves and you use various strategies to fight them. Without the busy button pushing of the Dynasty series, Bladestorm possesses tremendous sound effects of swords clashing and clanging, trumpeters rallying the troops, and soldiers expiring.

The vast battlegrounds allow for the presence of amazing numbers of soldiers so that the screen looks so busy at times that you find yourself looking away from the fight at hand to the background movements.

The power up function can be replenished after a short wait that only seems interminable. Bladestorm has the lasting advantage of changing strategies or changing sides as well as an independent status. Skill levels for individual weapon classes are earned by successful battles and this permits nearly unlimited customizations. Any group of soldiers chancing by can be conscripted for your side by taking hold of them to join you.

You set up missions in a contract with the English or the French where you can set the duration and use the entire map if you want. Graphics could be better but the sheer number of soldiers more than makes up for this deficiency. Bladestorm is a mixed improvement over Dynasty Warrior and worth the money because of the long-term appeal.