The demo version of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness contains two 3-mission campaigns, one for each side, with unique missions that are not included in the retail version of the game. The campaigns are more or less comparable to Act I of respective sides' full campaigns, but the maps, objectives and briefing text are not the same. This release also includes a limited version of the Map Editor that does not allow to save user created maps, or use any units, structures or terrain types not featured in the demo. A unique feature in the demo is a built-in preview slide show that describes the full game; some of the images show old, pre-release graphics of certain units and structures.
The demo was released both as an Internet download (which is no longer available from Blizzards FTP site for some reason) and on CD for retail distribution. The cut-down Internet version does not have voice-over narration in briefings and the preview slide show, and also uses a slide-show version of the introduction movie. The CD version, on the other hand, does not have these limitations and also includes CD Audio soundtrack and previews of other Blizzard products.
- "WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness - Shareware" -- In-game title
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Annoyed unit responsesStarting with their first Warcraft game, Blizzard included hidden funny messages that become audible if the player clicks a unit enough times. In the demo version, Footman, Orc Peon and Orc Grunt units have specific messages that urge the player to buy the retail version of the game. This is similar to the earlier leaked alpha of the game, where the annoyed quotes suggested that the reviewers give the game a good score in their publications.
Cheat codesThe demo version allows the player to reveal the entire map, receive extra resources, instantly build anything, and jump to any desired level via cheat codes. These codes, however, are different from the retail version cheat codes with similar functions. Presumably, this was done to avoid spoiling the retail cheat codes via the demo version, as the demo cheat codes are documented in the accompanying readme file.
In-game hints & tipsThe built-in Hints & Tips that are displayed in the beginning of each mission (unless turned off) include information about the features of the full game, and also ask the player to buy the retail version of Warcraft II, along with the regular tips regarding game play and interface commands, which are similar to the full version.
Title screenThe demo uses what is apparently an early version of the title screen, which has fiery orange background colour instead of the dark blue in the final release. Traces of orange colour can be still recognized on the title screen of the retail version, around the edges of the wooden plate upon which the title is imposed.
Unique levelsBlizzard seems to have developed the idea of including unique levels for demonstration purposes with the magazine preview alpha version of Warcraft II that had been accidentally leaked to the public. The alpha came with four unique missions (two for each side), complete with mission briefing voice-overs. By contrast, the demo version of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans uses the first and the third missions from the full version's campaign, with only a short unique scenario that is designed to be unwinnable as a conclusion of the demo campaign.