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Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf

Developer: Liquid Entertainment | Publisher: Crave
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 11/11/02 | Genre: RTS

Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf is an expansion campaign for the original Battle Realms real-time strategy game. Winter of the Wolf also offers a few new units and minor tweaks to the original's skirmish mode. Is the new campaign and a couple extra units reason enough to revisit this Japanese themed game?

As you may recall, the original Battle Realms was a palatable RTS played in an ancient Japanese setting. The game followed the story of Kenji, a young leader who unites his clan and returns them to proper glory. Units resembled Samurai warriors and petite young Geisha. Upgrading units got tedious at times, and large battles were sometimes difficult to manage. Now that we've touched on the old, let's take a peek at the new.

Winter of the Wolf adds a new campaign for us to play through. This time we follow the story of Grayback, enslaved heir to the Wolf Clan throne. For years he's been training his fellow slaves in the art of combat?Ķand now its time to fight back. So you can guess where this is heading. Grayback must lead his people back to the freedom they once enjoyed.

Beyond the new characters and the mildly intriguing story, there isn't much to get excited about in Winter of the Wolf. The game is more or less the same as before, with slightly less than stellar graphics really sticking out like a sore thumb. No need to update your graphics hardware to play this one, kids. For some reason, I remember the graphics being adequate in the original. Unfortunately, those same graphics now feel substandard. How weird is that? I guess that just shows how graphic expectations evolve quickly in the gaming industry.

As with the original, the game is easy to control. It utilizes standard RTS interfaces that even a beginner can become familiar with in no time at all. Characters are more boxy in stature than I remember and look slightly cheezey if focus on them too hard. Sounds are fine, with the clanks and bangs of frenzied fighting adding a little excitement to the battlefield. In all, nothing stands out about this game, beyond the prominent Japanese backdrop.

Winter of the Wolf would probably be a fine pick-up for two groups of gamer: Those completely enamored with the original, and those looking for a Japanese themed RTS who have never played the original. Casual gamers will likely lose interest fairly quickly. Now that I've reviewed it, I have no reason to keep the game on my hard drive any longer. I hate to sound so rough, but Winter of the Wolf is an average offering that does little to enhance the original. The new campaign didn't hold my interest quite as well as the original "Kenji" campaign did. There are plenty of gaming treats out there this holiday season. Ask Santa for one of them and hope Winter of the Wolf doesn't end up in your stocking this Christmas.

By Kevin Watson - 12/17/02
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Violence
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Screenshots for Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf

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