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Strategy/3D Real-Time Strategy
TEEN, Animated Violence
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Control of The Tears of Dawn and their unearthly powers sits center stage in the real-time strategy, fantasy role-playing game Warlords Battlecry. Two forces, one good, one evil, battle for possession of a land called Etheria through a series of 36 single-player episodes (campaign). A new element has been integrated into gameplay, the development of heroes, which signals a departure from the strictly real-time aspect familiar to fans of the previously released Warlords series.
In addition to the single-player campaign, Warlords Battlecry offers both a Skirmish mode in which you fight up to five computer-controlled players on either standard or random maps as well as multiplayer action for six via LAN, four over the Internet, or two by modem. As with the single-player campaign, the game combines combat, heroes and magic in a blend of action requiring formation of armies, spell casting, questing, combat and empire building. An automatic resource gathering option allows you to focus on strategy in lieu of resource management, if desired.
There are 16 tutorial scenarios provided to help learn nuances of gameplay in Warlords Battlecry. Seven deal with basic gameplay and cover such topics as how to move your armies, attack, defend, build structures, cast spells and so forth, while the other nine concentrate on tactics for each of the nine races in the game. The nine races are divided into three groups, civilized, primitive and magical, with each group consisting of three factions. All factions have unique characteristics and ratings in six categories (combat, hit points, upgrades, speed, siege and production time). Additionally, special modifiers, both positive and negative, are assigned to each faction based on their traits and alignment (good, evil or neutral).
The civilized group includes humans (good), dwarves (neutral) and undead (evil), primitive races are made up of barbarians (good), minotaurs (neutral) and orcs (evil) and the magical group features high elves (good), wood elves (neutral) and dark elves (evil). The three races have specific technology trees, broken down by faction, for building and improving their respective empires by establishing structures and units. There are 90 skills spread across the nine factions, ranging from Ancient Wisp to Wolfpack, with some assigned to multiple races and others denied to specific groups.
The option to choose which path to take occurs only after the second chapter, roughly midway through the campaign. In either case, whether you take the Path of Darkness or the Path of Light, only your hero and his or her assemblage are carried forward from mission to mission. All missions have specific victory conditions and objectives that allow development of your chosen hero.
A hero in Warlords Battlecry can be either created from scratch or selected from those pre-generated in the Book of Heroes and can be a warrior, rogue, priest or wizard. Each type can be further broken down into specialties, such as an assassin, thief or bard for the rogue, and a paladin, druid, runemaster, or healer for the priest. Wizards have six sub-specialties (archmage, necromancer, illusionist, pyromancer, alchemist and summoner) while warriors have three (fighter, barbarian or ranger).
Heroes are powerful entities who can cast spells, convert buildings, take on mini-quests and build inventories; furthermore, they gain bonuses if they're of the same race as that of the army they lead. Although heroes can be injured, they cannot be killed permanently and will always be available for the next scenario. Heroes are rated in four categories (strength, intelligence, dexterity and charisma) and have ten inherent (modifiable) skills, ranging from combat to morale.
Warlords Battlecry encompasses eight spheres of magic: healing, necromancy, pyromancy, nature, alchemy, summoning, illusion and runes. Each sphere has ten spells divided by levels dependent on the skill of the caster (four level 1, three level 2, two level 3 and one rare level 4 spell). Most spells have modifiers as well as associated mana costs. Additionally, there are three common spells automatically known by every spellcaster: silver arrow, heroism and shield.
The game also includes a scenario editor/builder that allows for full customization of existing scenarios as well as creation of new ones. All aspects are changeable including terrain, buildings, armies, events, sides and even game options. Sound, settings and graphic displays are also available for customizing gameplay. Whether you follow the Path of Light or the Path of Darkness, favor brute force or magic, or enjoy multi- or single-player adventures, entering this fantasy-based war-torn world may well induce you to utter your very own Warlords Battlecry! ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide