The most crippling part of any RTS game is allowing players to move past the learning curve. They're bombarded by new units, abilities, futuristic weapons and armor-types. Some games even feature unique team abilities; and while there is something to be said about an elegant level of complexity, some games feel differently. Lionheart: Kings' Crusade is pretty unique in the fact that it takes place in a very real time and place. Anyone who knows about the crusades can picture it to be a pretty decent setting for a strategy game, since there are very few points in Earth's history where legions of men were sent out on a vast campaign. By all accounts, it's hard to ask for a better backdrop for any war-based title.
Lionheart lets players campaign as one of two factions: Crusader or Saracen. Each of these have own units and from there it's all about attempting to decimate the enemy forces until there's no one left to oppose you. What brings the game from 'neat' to 'cool' is that players will be managing their troops on a pretty grand scale. After all, we're discussing an RTS game that's attempting to bring some historical fact into play. Armies will number into the hundreds, and individual men will rush into battle in real-time. The concept will give a nice feel of how things may have gone on back-in-the-day, which is pretty cool in its own right.
Players will naturally be able to customize their army as well, upgrading units and using famous historical characters as heroes. This also means that rewriting the past will be an option, which makes sense considering the game would be pretty linear otherwise. It begs to ask a lot of questions though. For example, will the game's story adjust to this massive change in our planets history? How long will the campaign be to begin with? How accurate will it be from the start? While I do think it would be absolutely hilarious to see an extremely serious version of the Third Crusade go absolutely crazy, it'd almost be even better if there was a tongue-and-cheek humour to the whole thing.
Taking all these things into account it's hard to look too far ahead into Lionheart, after all much of what's there doesn't sound very groundbreaking and everything else that could make the game fun is pure speculation. Either way, it's hard to argue with the kind of entertainment that watching an entire army walk across a world would bring. Provided the game has a quick enough pace, Lionheart could easily carve out a pretty unique place among competing RTS titles.
Either way, it looks like a pretty solid venture for anyone interested in history, RTS, and maybe even sand (there was a lot of it). There are a lot of really solid concepts in Lionheart: Kings' Crusade, strung together with mechanics that are pretty well known throughout the genre. How the game looks to make its mark is yet to be seen, but for the time being it's safe to have a cautious form of optimism when it comes to this historical RTS. Perhaps even safe to start watching History channel in hopes of getting some early tactical strategies.