WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness

aka: War2, WarCraft 2, WarCraft II: Blood Seas, WarCraft II: Ondas de Terror
Moby ID: 1339
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

WarCraft II: Tides of Darkness is a fantasy themed real-time strategy game and sequel to WarCraft: Orcs & Humans set on the world of Azeroth. With the conquest of the kingdom of Azeroth in the first war, the orcs are now preparing for an invasion of Lordaeron and conquer the remaining human, dwarven and elvisch realms. In an effort to counter this invasion the humans, elves and dwarves formed an alliance in the hope to avert the same fate the kingdom of Azeroth met.

The game comes with many new features such as fighting not only over land but also over sea and air, SVGA 640x480 resolution graphics with many newly-rendered buildings and units, multiplayer-support with up to eight players, as well as a Red Book audio soundtrack, and a scenario editor that allows players to design and create their own scenarios. The editor requires Windows 3.1 or greater, even though WarCraft II is a DOS-based game.

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Credits (DOS version)

143 People (68 developers, 75 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 90% (based on 32 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 183 ratings with 11 reviews)

So charming, you’ll overlook all of its flaws.

The Good
First 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 Bad
Like 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.

The Bottom Line
Clearly the product of much love and affection, I love WC2 against all my better judgment. A guilty pleasure, yes, but a pleasure nonetheless. Unlike Command & Conquer, WC is a genuine classic.

DOS · by PCGamer77 (3158) · 2008

An excellent RTS game, marred by repetitive AI

The Good
Warcraft 2, along with Command & Conquer and This Means War, was part of the second wave of RTS games to assault PC gamers senses. The graphics are quite cartoony, and nicely detailed, without ever looking brilliant. Each character has a nice little face picture on the side panel, where you can issue commands like move, attack and unit specific commands like cast spell or harvest timber. The storyline is quite nice, involving the humans running from their home nation after the story in Warcraft 1, and sailing across the seas. Unfortunately for them, the Orcs follow. War ensues, and it is your job to pick one of the sides and try to win. The action is all in real time, with resource gathering, structure and unit building and attacking all needing to be taken care of. The units are a wide range, with most having melee weapons only, but the magicians and axe throwers/archers having range attacks. There are also a few token air units for each side which don't do a hell of a lot, and some sea units which help make the game more varied. While the two sides have different units, they are all fairly equal, like the axe thrower vs. the archer, or the ogre vs. the knight.

The Bad
In terms of gameplay, Warcraft 2 is a little flatter than Command & Conquer, while still being good. Whereas in C&C the strategies seem to be quite varied, in Warcraft 2 it is mostly a case of learning how the computer acts which can be done within the first 5 or so missions, and then repeating the same strategy to counter it. All in all, the game is definately worth getting, but if you can get C&C instead you'll probably find yourself playing that more.

The Bottom Line
Warcraft 2 is one of the most influential RTS titles of all time and has won numerous awards. The learning curve is excellent, but the slightly dodgy AI can put more experienced gamers off.

DOS · by Asher (4) · 2002

Customs scenarios make this one replayable

The Good
I don't have much to add to the other reviews here. The sound, graphics, user interface and so on are all done very well here. As has been pointed out, the graphics on the playing field in particular are noticeably superior to those of the popular Command & Conquer series from Westwood.

The basic concept - form and execute a plan to overcome the opposition by marshalling diverse resources and defeating it in battle - is one I've always enjoyed. The underlying idea is not that different from chess, although of course in the RTS genre the opposing sides do not wait to take turns.

Chess is also a good analogy in particular for Warcraft II in that the two sides, while appearing different on the surface, are in fact fairly similar in capabilities. Not being a teenage boy, I haven't ever played the orcish side, but I can't really see much difference between a juggernaut and a battleship, or a dragon and a gryphon.

One item that needs to be stressed is the custom scenario editor. I haven't used it myself, but many others have, and it's finding the results of their efforts that have extended this game's life for me (more below).

The Bad
With one exception, most of my reservations are nit-picking:

  • the scoring system emphasizes the number of enemies killed. The score is meaningless in any practical sense anyway, but it would be nice if cleverness could be rewarded somehow. A neat win is esthetically more pleasing to me.

  • the user interface is not quite as rock-solid as I would like. When the pointer gets near the edge of the screen in particular is where the chances of unintended results get quite high.

  • if I saved and reloaded a scenario in progress, it sometimes seemed as if all my enemies had suddenly quit playing. I got in the habit of rebooting the whole game every time I wanted to resume a saved scenario, which seemed to always give me enemies minded to fight.

  • in this version there is an apparently unintentional play imbalance. In scenarios where both sides start with fairly limited resources, one strategy is to create a barracks before a town hall, create a warrior, and send it after the opponent while it's still possible for one warrior to destroy everything the opponent has. I've won scenarios with this sort of "blitzkrieg" attack, but it's not very satisfying. I've read that the "battle.net" edition has outlawed this strategy by forcing the technology tree to begin with a town hall, so apparently others don't like it much either.

  • the included single-player campaign is only fifteen missions, which didn't seem long enough...

  • ..but later I discovered all the included single player "built-in" and "custom" stand-alone scenarios (although as applied to what comes with the game itself, the distinction eludes me), and that was additional fun for a while. But eventually that led to my biggest objection:

  • aside from the "blitzkrieg" strategy, there is only one other strategy needed, and that is to dig in, wait until your opponent runs out of resources, and then move in to destroy him. In fact, so all-encompassing is this strategy that I never needed to learn many of the capabilities of my "pieces" in order to win every scenario that came with the game.

Was this deliberate? One thing limiting resources does is also limit the time anyone spends playing a scenario, and that may have been a factor in Blizzard's design decisions. But the custom scenario editor in the proper hands proves that other decisions are possible. I've recently completed a scenario I found on the net ("Rocnor") that took me hours (possibly days) of real time to finish. The computer simply had inexhaustible resources and a very fast generation time for dragons from multiple roosts on a very well-protected island. My guard towers killed more than 20,000 of them by the time I won. More importantly, I couldn't win at all until I'd completely re-thought my strategies and also learned to employ some those mage spells I'd never had much use for.

Now that was fun! There's life in the old game yet.

The Bottom Line
A generally well-designed game with a good balance of thought and action. A violent game (albeit a fantasy-themed violence), and not for those who prefer cooperative games where everyone lives together in peace and harmony. Everyone interested in RTS games should experience it - there are lots of them about, but how many are still being played (and still sold!) five or six years after their introduction?

DOS · by anton treuenfels (34) · 2002

[ View all 11 player reviews ]

Discussion

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Trivia

1001 Video Games

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Book

In the mission objectives screen, the text written in the book on the background is actually English with letters substituted with similar sounding (or, in some cases, not) Cyrillic ones. For example, "орцисч чордес" is definitely "orcish hordes".

Credits

At the end of the credits section of the game there is a note:

No pixels were harmed during the making of this game.

Cheats

You can type in "gilttering prizes" instead of the cheat "glittering prizes" and still have it work. Joke? Glitch? Coincidence? We will never know...

Development

  • Blizzard originally wanted to include more than two races with the game. However, memory constrictions forced them to stay with two. As a compromise, they included Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Ogres, Goblins, and Gnomes as part of the two official races, Orcs and Humans.
  • At one point in development, Blizzard planed to have Catapults and Balistas manned. This means that you would need a unit to move and fire the catapult. If this unit was killed, the enemy could then capture your catapult. For whatever reason, this idea was taken out of the final version, however evidence of its existence can still be seen in the cutscene of a footman stealing an Orcish Catapult.

Gags

  • If you repetitively click on any of the critters in the game, they'll eventually explode.
  • As is typical of all of Blizzard's RTS games, repeatedly clicking on any unit will trigger humorous dialogue.

Graphics

All of the buildings and units for Warcraft II were originally created from 3d models. Then, after the frames of animation were set, these were given to artists to draw over, giving the game an animated look rather than a 3-D look.

Lumber bug

In games that began with only one peon (no townhall), you could click on a tree and then build your townhall. This would result in 100 extra lumber even though the tree was never completely chopped down. This was known as the "lumber bug" and came in very handy in low resource multiplayer games. However, this only worked in the DOS version of the game and was fixed in the BattleNet version.

Reception

  • A common nickname for Warcraft II is "Warcrack", a reference to how addictive -- like crack cocaine -- this game can be.
  • Rumor has it that Civilization designer Sid Meier remained skeptical of multiplayer gaming until he saw how much fun his daughter had beating him at Warcraft II.

References

If you select a sheep four times (keep clicking it with the left mouse button), the sheep will say: bo-ram-u (that's what it sounds like). This is the sheep password from the 1995 movie Babe.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • June 1996 (Issue #143) – Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #28 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • June 1998 (Issue #278) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #3 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #9 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #4 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll
    • April 2005 - #5 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1997 – Best Game in 1996

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Chentzilla, KSlayer, Maw, PCGamer77, Roedie, Toadstool; Trixter and Warlock

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Accatone.

Macintosh added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Warlock, Andrew Hartnett, Jeanne, Maw, Patrick Bregger, MrFlibble, FatherJack, Flapco, GenesisBR.

Game added April 13, 2000. Last modified July 12, 2024.