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Warlords: Battlecry (Windows)

76
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Droog (463)
Written on  :  Mar 08, 2002
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
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Summary

Warlords: Battlecry is an engaging and well-done RTS with only a few game design flaws

The Good

The single player and multiplayer aspects of this game are both well done, especially the voice acting of many of the units. The Undead race's units, especially the Lich have some of the best voiced lines of any RTS units, including the memorable "So much DEATH!". What really makes the game is the Heroes, which are fun to develop across several single or multiplayer games. The game is very deep, with more races (about 9) and a ton of variety in its Hero abilities and spells. The resource system is well done too, eliminating the micro-management of worker units that was so annoying in StarCraft and other RTS games.

The Bad

The strengths of this game are also its biggest weakness. There is so much variety that it seems that SSG didn't have time to balance all of the races and classes against each other.

The mage classes are extremely powerful once they get Spell Mastery, and no class can touch a high level archmage who can cast all of the good offensive, defensive, and building spells. The fighter classes are pretty well done, but can't match the area of effect mage spells in pure killing power. The thief classes are pretty useless because their main benefits are too weak when balanced against their poor magic and fighting ability.

The races are generally better balanced than the classes, with a wide variety of units at first glance. However, the races really are not different enough from each other to justify supporting so many of them. SSG could have cut 3 or 4 of the races from the game and it would not have suffered in gameplay depth too much. My favorite races were the Undead, Orcs, and Humans, with the Wood Elves and Dwarves not far behind. All of the other races (Minotaurs, Nomads, Dark Elves, and High Elves) are either too simplistic or too derivative of other races to be much fun to play.

Another problem with the heroes is that once they got past level 20 or so, you could win any game just by charging the enemy with your hero and pounding or casting away. You can get around this, of course, by restricting multiplayer games to heroes of level 5 to 15, which are the most fun to play.

Finally, there was a big exploit in both single and multiplayer with any spellcaster that could create artifacts. Once you got the better artifact spells, you could start a game, beat down every opponent except for a few buildings, and then just summon artifacts for 30 minutes. Suddenly, your stats would go from average to insane, making up for any class weaknesses that you might have had.

The Bottom Line

Warlords: Battlecry is a very good translation of the classic Warlords turn-based strategy games into a real-time strategy game. It plays a lot like Starcraft or Age of Empires, but with the addition of two fun gameplay elements: the elimination of micromanagement of worker units (instead your hero Converts mines to you cause to automatically produce resources over time), and the addition of a powerful Hero unit which you can develop across many games. You can command a wide variety of races and units as you develop your hero, and your hero can choose from a myriad of spells and special abilities to help you in your conquest.