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SummaryStill kicks a** a decade later
The Good- the graphics are terrific, even ten years later. I've run this with an ATI Radeon 4650 with all the game graphics cranked up to max at widescreen monitor resolution. Not the world's most powerful GPU, it's still far beyond anything the designers had available to them. The game still looks gorgeous. Toward the end of any campaign, when the maps get huge, you can climb mountains and realize you can see for miles, and those tiny moving dots are really giant beasts that are so very, very far away...for the moment...
- all kinds of spells, and the biggest ones are really big. Those tiny moving dots are really giant beasts that have gotten caught up in huge tornado and dragged way up into the sky, aren't they? Say, aren't they MY beasts...? And yipes, now it's got me! What a fascinating view, looking down at the spinning world so very far below! Unfortunately we're all going to fall down in a minute...ouch!
- a variety of paths through the game (although some are definitely easier than others. Ya wanna make it easy on yourself? Always go with James. Play your cards right and you can even get a dragon companion).
- the missions have some variety. Some are scramble as fast as you can, others require settling in and having the patience to chip away at the enemy bit by bit
- a cult following has put lots of YouTube videos on this game revealing all kinds of things I didn't find the first time I completed it. So I can go back and do even better!
The Bad- the first time I played it I gave up in frustration because the manual said "always secure your mana fountains" and then I ran into a mission where the opposing side began to blow up my mana fountains (and my creatures!) with a kind of volcano machine I couldn't figure out how to beat. Grrr! I hate games I can't win!
- some of the spells don't seem to be worth bothering with, and some of the creatures seem quite useless. Or maybe I just never figured out how to use them properly
- it's a bit disconcerting that the final level boss "doesn't play by the same rules" that govern the rest of the game. On the other hand, that makes it quite a challenge, doesn't it?