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Echte Hassliebe: Selten wollte ich Entwicklern noch nie um den Hals fallen und ihnen gleichzeitig selbigen umdrehen. Denn Elemental macht wahnsinnig viele Sachen richtig gut: den konsequent gezeichneten Grafikstil, der wie aus einem Guss wirkt, den tollen Einheiten-Designer, die Verbindung aus Städtebau, Entdecken und Kämpfen. Und dann gibt’s Szenen, da werde ich wahnsinnig. Bei fummeligen Anwählen der Einheiten etwa, oder bei den laaaaangsamen Kampfanimationen, die ich partout nicht beschleunigen darf. Doch letztendlich siegt die Liebe über den Hass – Elemental ist ein Geheimtipp, auf den Sie sich einlassen sollten.
Elemental: War of Magic has a lot of good ideas that set it apart from being another kingdom-building clone, and while it borrows from many places, it doesn't really do a great job of making any of them feel particularly strong or fully fleshed out. The unit design is quite deep, but the combat feels awfully shallow. There are a multitude of spells that often can be too weak to be useful, and there's a potentially rich and vibrant backstory that is the backdrop of an unfortunately weak campaign. Stardock has stated that an upcoming patch will address many of these issues and has made known its commitment to improving the game, and that's definitely something to consider. Elemental's glimmers of greatness are easy to see, but it currently feels like an incomplete piece of work.
I’m baffled and saddened that they’d release it like this. The unforgivable state of the game at launch, the inert AI, and the entirely missing multiplayer all stem from that single enormous mistake. It’s one of the most catastrophic decisions I’ve ever seen a great developer make... As a game? It’s pretty good. As a decision? An utter disaster.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this game is the amount of work poured to it: A long single-player campaign, tons of lore (of debatable quality, but that’s another matter), a skirmish mode which contains every feature that is required, plus multiplayer and race designing options. Furthermore the modding options are vast and fully supported by the producers. On the other hand the diplomacy, AI and magic system are completely lacking. I couldn’t even test the multiplayer because on the official servers I found only one player: myself. So I was left with a buggy single-player still riddled with random crashes and mid-game slow-downs. And all this on the 1.1 version of the game, which comes with an impressive list of changes and updates, judging by the length of the changelog. Out of respect for Stardock, I'll stop here, because it’s hard for me to imagine how a decent developer has allowed a product to be released in this state, with little connection to the term of entertainment.
It really is the damndest thing: even with the instability issues, even with its utter inaccessibility for newcomers to strategy games (and to a large extent, experienced players with anything less than an abundance of patience), I still want to make time to play Elemental. Is this some sort of Stockholm syndrome, I wonder? I doubt it. I think it's just that this is a game with some great ideas that just haven't been implemented as well as they could be.
Is it all a disaster? Well, the AI problems are fixed to some degree by the robust multiplayer (if you can find friends willing to slog through the ugliest visuals since finger-painting class). [Note: At the time of the game's release, no multiplayer options were available. However, once those features are available, the author wants to clarify that they should mitigate any problems encountered with the game's current AI.] And yes, the level of customization for both the world map and your alter-ego hero is nice. But no number of small details can hope to salvage quality from this debacle of execution. It's a shame, because the good ideas are always present in Elemental, woven into the background, like a couple of golden threads in one of those hideous dogs-playing-poker paintings. Just goes to show: a lot of us recognize how hard it is to carry a good idea to a reality, but it took a T.S. Eliot to describe it with an eloquent and simple beauty. You'll get 'em next time, Brad.
Even a broken promise is still a promise. Elemental is clearly a game that had too many ideas and too much love – there is a core game with an evolving world full of adventure here. The world isn't that interesting, but interesting things could happen here. Quests of great promise that force you to negotiate passage into enemy lands, for example; this can happen, but the rewards are never worth the risk. A greater incentive to police your lands to keep brigands and robbers out; Stardock's Galactic Civilizations 2 has a morale meter that would fit well in a situation like this. Given Stardock's history and the many brilliant ideas here, there is every indication that by year's end this will be a strategy game worth looking at.
A complex story attempts to give meaning to each quest, but even the most hardcore 4Xers will feel betrayed by Elemental. There’s very little to love here, and it’s so unbalanced and frustratingly crippled no magic will fix it.
While it does play a tad better than the original version available at launch, Elemental: War of Magic can only be enjoyed by the few true and dedicated 4X hardcore players that don’t play anything else other than this particular game genre. I’m still amazed to see the forums flooded by passionate people trying to find ways to enjoy this piece of nonsense. In my opinion, this ambitious title might have put Stardock in a very precarious position where the consumer will have serious difficulties trusting Brad Wardell and his team of talented developers from now on. Amusingly, Stardock wrote, in 2008, The Gamer’s Bill of Rights. Point #2 says: “Gamers shall have the right that games they purchase shall function as designed without technical defects that would materially affect the player experience”. You might find that in Civilization V...
Rife with technical issues and a clunky user interface, Elemental: War of Magic is not yet the game I hoped it could be.
There are the normal online modes you'd expect in Elemental: War of Magic, but after playing much of the single player campaign, you're not likely going to be much interested in playing them. Elemental: War of Magic should not have been released in the state that it was, as it's filled with sloppy design and game crippling bugs. If you looked hard enough, you're sure to find some cool elements, but they're quickly washed away by the negative aspects that are so prolific.
G4 TV: X-Play
Nobody knows what Elemental: War of Magic will look like when all is said and done. By all accounts it'll be dramatically different from the buggy, pre-release version and various updates we've already seen. Stardock seem committed to making things right. But you can't put a promise in a box and call it a finished game. What's most frustrating is that in the rare moments when the game fires on all cylinders its as engrossing, addictive and engaging as the other great empire-building strategy games it seeks to emulate – then a game ending crash or inexplicable road block rears its head and frustration returns. We truly want to play and love the perfect version of Elemental: War of Magic that Stardock has in mind. Unfortunately, we don't have it installed on our hard drive just yet.
It's surprising that Stardock would release Elemental in the condition it's in. The game is unfinished in every respect, lacking features that are standard in current 4X games and in video games in general. It's a confusing mess that buries all of its interesting features under bad decisions and broken mechanics.
Elemental: War of Magic could have been a good strategy game, and given Stardock's history of supporting its products long into the future, it may yet be one someday. But that day is not here. Perhaps your faith in a respected developer and your love of the 4X formula will inspire enough patience in you to see the solid game foundation buried amid all the smoking rubble and swarming bugs. Certainly, Elemental's ability to make you lose hours at a time to an expanding kingdom in spite of its major problems is proof of many worthy ideas and ambitions. But ideas only hold so much value if they're not executed properly. If you can feast on ideas alone, Elemental: War of Magic might have something to offer you. If you prefer finished strategy games that don't actively impede your enjoyment, you should focus your attention elsewhere.
When not crashing, stuttering, or burdening you with menus, Elemental threatens to be interesting. There is an astounding array of options for customizing every facet of gameplay, from the clothing and abilities of individual characters to the machinations of entire empires. Even the integration of quests and diplomacy as paths to victory are alluring. Elemental: War of Magic could have been a micro-manager’s dream come true, if it not for its completely inept presentation.