Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne
A great game, just as the first one.
This is pretty much the only game I play, just as AoW1 once was. When it comes to turn-based fantasy games, AoW2 is king. Some people claim that too much AoW-feeling was lost from the first game, and I see what they mean and agree to some extent. But if you look at AoW2 as a single game, you can't miss the true fantasy feeling and great gameplay.
The wizard concept is new and cool. You can cast spells within a certain area from your main character, the wizard, when he's in his wizard tower.
One major improvement from the first game is the editor. Maybe not as advanced as the HoMM editor, but still very capable of creating great looking fantasy worlds. There's an event system that can be used to trigger certain events like unit spawning, messages, gold rewards and much much more. This is also what makes the game replayable, the user made maps. Some artistic fans have created extremely beautiful an advanced maps with RPG type events and great stories.
The Simultaneous turns feature (available in AoW1 as well) is nice. Even I, who am a hardcore TBS gamer, have learned to appreciate it. It speeds the game up, both in single and multiplayer, without loosing too much TBS feeling.
Great graphics. Way prettier than all the other fantasy TBS games put together, including HoMM4.
The great website http://aow2.heavengames.com should also be mentioned. Even the developers hang out there and answer questions and responds to suggestions. There's also a huge map archive and many many hints and tips for both mapmakers and players.
I didn't like the music much. Luckily, there's a built in mp3 player that lets you use your own playlist, and the fantastic music from AoW1 can be converted to mp3 with a Winamp plugin... :)
Some AoW felling was lost as the unit descriptions didn't make it from AoW1. Reading these little well written descriptions while your opponent was making his move was a nice feature in AoW1.
The editor could also have a few more portraits available for your custom made heroes, or maybe even the option to import your own pictures. Perhaps the upcoming expansion will have that feature (please).
The editor could use some more features as well, like more options for cities and spells. These are no major problems for the average player of AoW2, but those who decide to create their own maps might find it a bit annoying, as you can't limit the size of cities or set what spells are available for the AI.
This game is really fun to play in online MP matches. Unfortunately, not many other players are available. Several polls show that people rather play this game in single player mode or use the play by E-mail feature.
The Bottom Line
There is no better way to spend a few dollars than to buy this game. It provides hours and hours of gameplay, mostly because of the user made maps that are available.
The game might be hard at first, but as you play for a while you learn how the AI works. The developers added a "beginner" difficulty level in the 1.2 patch, which is recommended for players new to AoW.
by Grov (657) on June 23rd, 2002