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Written by  :  Luke Iffer (3)
Written on  :  Aug 13, 2004

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful

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Summary

Average Warcraft II clone with a few good ideas

The Good

This game has a lot of good ideas. All units (except non-combat ones like transport ships) can gain experience and get more powerful, and most land units have an inventory to hold artifacts that improve their abilities. What's more, you can take any unit (not just pre-designated "heroes") from mission to mission (and re-name them if you like), so the experience thing is actually useful. Furthermore, spellcaster gain new spell scrolls when they rise levels, thus avoiding the spellcaster-heroes-gain-combat-abilities-instead-of-magical-ones seen in Warcraft II. Graphics are on par with said Warcraft- good for their era, though anyone who demands lush 3D environments with their RTSs will naturally be disappointed. All units are well-designed, balanced, and have interesting abilities. It's this that really makes it such a shame that the developers couldn't be bothered to get a few basic things right, because this COULD have been a really good game. The three sides are genuinely different, with the elves excelling at spellcasting, the orcs at close combat and the humans having a good mix. There's a fully-functional scenario editor, which is actually unusually good- easy to get the hang of but allowing to do pretty much everything. If you like this sort of thing, the editor is actually better than Warcraft's. It does have a couple of bugs, but these can be circumvented once you spot them.

The Bad

The AI is, quite frankly, appalling. The computer doesn't even bother attacking your base for m0st of the campaign- not even the one-unit-at-a-time scenario seen in so many RTS games. Pathfinding is truly atrocious, as well. This is the biggest problem with the game. The plot is cliche-filled in the extreme and makes little sense. You might be prepared to overlook this, but a good plot adds to a sense of immersion, I feel. A good scenario editor offers some slight compesation for this (see above). Also, many of the missions are simply excercises in patience as you wade through large numbers of enemy troops. Fortunately, your men heal quickly so this never gets too boring. There are a few well-designed ones that are genuinely fun to play. Lastly, the voice-acting is bad, and many of the units sound incredibly silly. The orcs (sorry, "Greenskins", lest anyone think this is a Warcraft clone) are the least anoying, since you can't understand what they're saying most of the time. The Centaurs are among the worst. There are a few decently voiced units- including some of the spellcasters, but don't hold your breath. Music is OK, but a little repetitive. At least each race has different music.

The Bottom Line

I've read two reviews of this game- one glowing, the other damning. Thing is, they're both wrong. This is a decidedly average game. Unlike most such games, however, it has many very good points and many very bad ones. It's good fun for a short while, and a game you'll probably come back to from time to time, but not a classic by any means- Warcraft II, from the same Era, with similar system specs and a similar price tag, is a much better bet.