Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 03/11/02 | Genre: RTS
Warlords Battlecry II is a fantastic game. It has all the qualities of a good RTS and has the character building of a good RPG. The addictive gameplay will make eating and sleeping seem like an option. This is one game no one should miss out on.
Now there are few problems with the game but by no means does it take away from the joy and countless hours of pillaging you'll be doing. The graphics and sound aren't all they can be. Sure it's not an eyesore by any means but they could have been polished up a bit more to reflect the technology. For example the barbarian's voice acting is a horrible Conan impression that will make you laugh out loud. Also there's only one in-mission save. You can't simply save before you enter a big fight you can only really save the game after each campaign battle or scenario fight.
You can choose from 12 different character types all of them are from the D&D realm. The hero you create gains experience as you fight, which helps them increase levels and gain powers and special units he can't create in the game. But it doesn't end there, once the hero passes level two you'll chose from four classes, wizard, warrior, priest and rogue and then chose a subclass. For example the undead wizard can become an illusionist, necromancer or an ice magician.
You're going to want to play the evil races though because some of their units do really nasty things like the undead, their necromancer's create skeletons from the fallen warriors and brings them to your side. The dark elves have a unit called the spider queen and she lays eggs in the bodies of the dead, which hatch into combat ready spiders. All the races have one huge unit but by the time you get to create it you have so many other units they aren't really needed just fun to look at.
The meat of the game is the dynamic campaign where you quest to take over Etheria. There are 67 regions to via for but you only have to take over about half before you're declared the absolute ruler. Just before some of the turns a special event will happen like a wandering group will ask to join you. It isn't hard to conquer the world, this game really boils down to how many units you can create in the smallest amount of time. Numbers are the key to victory.
The gameplay is very straightforward, you need to capture resources in order to build different structures and create units in order to achieve the mission goal. What makes this different from other games with a persistent hero type is that he comes with you in both the scenario and campaigns. Most RTS titles just let you build a hero in the scenario section and assigns you a hero in the campaign. And usually when your hero dies your game is over but not here. Your units continue the fight. So keeping units alive is also a good idea.
Unfortunately you're hero is pretty weak and gets killed really easily but the game doesn't end. You can still win without your hero but it's pretty difficult. As long as you have some builder types, like zombies for the undead, you can still create structures and units. The only things you can't to is add to your main building and acquire new resources, which makes building tough. Add to that the fact you enemy is still in tact, creating new buildings and doing research for stronger armor and weapons you chance of winning slims down. But you can set the computer at a disadvantage if you want to by limiting their resources and boosting yours to the max. A really nice feature is that you can set the conditions for what happens when you hero does die. So if you're rally inexperienced you'll want to be able to resurrect your hero and still have gain experience even though he's dead. For the more hardcore gamers you can set it so once he's dead, he's dead.
Now as your units survive battles they gain experience, which can make them faster on the attack and gain mana. You can carry these veteran units over from battle to battle as long as you have enough army points to do it. So the more powerful the unit becomes the more points it'll cost to bring them over. And once they die that's it. So you'll want to keep them back until you absolutely need them.
As stated before winning isn't all that hard, the computer follows a pretty easy to figure out pattern. Generally the computer always goes for the unguarded resources and it sends a constant stream of attackers along with the enemy hero to your camp. The overall condition for victory is to kill all the enemies and wipe out their camps completely. Now if you can't get the advantage quickly you're in for a huge fight. This game really does favor huge battles with tons of enemies which can get really crazy to follow and hard to manage, but it's incredibly fun at the same time. Your whole screen becomes littered with bodies and different units fighting and moving on to help out another unit. Of course you can control the whole thing and decide who goes where and when.
This is a pretty innovate game as far as the gameplay goes. The persistent hero and the ability to carry them with you through the entire game sets it apart from all the other RTS games. You will be glued to the computer for hours. Add to that all the different races to choose from plus the multi-player game and you've got a game well worth its cost.