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SummarySo charming, you’ll overlook all of its flaws.
The GoodFirst of all, the chrome is as shiny and brilliant as can be. The graphics were souped up nicely from the original Warcraft’s somewhat blocky sprites to a smooth and spiffy SVGA. The colors are bright and full of contrast. Buildings and units are a joy to look at…and also to listen to. WC 2 set the standard for injecting personality into an RTS, with convincing sound effects (swords clash, bombs boom, etc.), charismatic vocal responses, and a sweeping musical soundtrack. The intro cinematic is also very well done.
The basics of the first WC are expanded upon just enough to make for a great sequel. There are more units and buildings, but not too many. There is one new resource to collect, oil, but no more. It’s just enough new stuff to add naval and air dimensions to the combat. Zeppelins, Flying Machines, Oil Tankers, Subs, Battleships, and more enhance what was already a pretty cool arsenal of fantasy toys.
There are two full campaigns, one for each side (Human-centered Alliance vs. Orc-centered Horde). There is also multiplayer. More on those below.
The manual and box art are wonderful. I don’t even like this kind of fantasy-themed stuff that much, but WC2 certainly got my attention with its loads of style *and* gameplay.
Finally, I give Blizzard high marks for not following Westwood’s lead in making a buggy, clunky, cheesy, wildly overrated mess like Command & Conquer. The RTS genre is not my favorite even as it stands now. How bad would real-time games generally be if we didn’t have Blizzard around?
The BadLike most RTS games (at least 1990s ones), WC2 puts a heavy emphasis on speed over strategy. There are no build queues or unit formations. Shortcut keys and fast mouse-clicking can cover up a multitude of tactical sins and just plain not thinking. It’s not a big problem in this kind of light, mainstream game, but it still seems a little bit like cheating to the more hardcore strategy/wargame player. Also, the pace makes WC2 exciting, but also a bit stressful. If you just want to relax and unwind at your computer for a while, WC2 is not that good of a choice. Then again, it’s less intense than Doom, so maybe it’s a happy medium.
The enemy AI is merely passable. Which is not a problem, unless you happen to be like me. I generally don’t like to play campaigns or online/multiplayer, so I’m stuck with the skirmish mode. I tried hard to get through the campaigns, but I kept losing interest and quitting before I got very far into them. Would it have been that hard for Blizzard to have included a random map generator?
It’s not the most rewarding game in the world. It’s quite fun and passes the time, but I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that much when I’m done playing it.