Thursday, June 12, 2014

You and what army? - Warlords Battlecry III

NOTICE: This review was made using the latest version of the game form GoG, which includes some additional bug fixes not found in the game's final patch. Your experience with other versions of the game may vary.

At it's core Warlords Battlecry III is a relatively straightforward real time strategy game with some RPG elements. choose a faction and hero to lead them, gather resources, build a base, research new abilities and train troops to try and destroy you're enemies who are doing the same. While the gameplay has a few twists, like how you need to convert mines with your hero or certain units to gather resources, the basic gameplay is fairly standard. However, while the central gameplay is mostly the standard RTS formula, Warlords Battlecry III adds a lot of extra features on top of this.

Getting past the core gameplay, Warlords Battlecry III is somewhat ridiculous. Most real time strategy games are content to have two or three, maybe four playable factions. Some will involve hero units, maybe with a basic leveling system and perhaps some sort of customization of skills and/or equipment between campaign missions. A few might even offer some choice in what order you take missions on.
The game has a few races to pick from. Also shown: mature use of the name field.

In that regard Warlords Battlecry III is not content with being like most real time strategy games. This is obvious whenever you start a new campaign. There's 16 races to play as, each with their own set of units (although some are shared), building tree, and technologies to research. Your hero has 28 classes to chose from, ranging from necromancers to warriors to pyromancers to merchants. and your hero's race and class help decide both their starting stats and what skills they have access to.

From there you end up in the campaign map, which opens up after only a few missions. The campaign is fairly non-linear and exploring the campaign map reveals plenty of side-missions, some of which are repeatable and use random maps. The campaign map also includes things like stores for hiring mercenaries to follow you on a mission or buying equipment for your hero with the money you earn by completing missions. There's also some diplomacy, as your choices in the campaign decide which of the games many races like or hate you, and allying with a race lets you choose to play as them in the campaign.
The campaign map is fairly large, and there's plenty of missions outside the main story.
Outside of the large campaign, there's also a skirmish against AI opponents or other players. Both of which can use your hero from the campaign and can help net your hero extra levels or new items. Unfortunately, the online servers for multiplayer have been taken down, meaning you'll have to either directly connect to your opponent or play locally over lAN. worse, what little I've been able to research shows that the multipayer is apparently hard to make work properly. I can't make any real judgement on multiplayer as I haven't tried it, but I would caution against buying this as a purely multiplayer game.

The game's Maps have plenty of decorations and little features to keep them visually interesting, though from a gameplay standpoint they tend to be fairly simple. Maps are mostly open with no real barriers or choke-points. It's not horrible as the game is more about troop selection and economic strength rather than careful positioning, but it's still a bit of a disappointment for those who are used to their strategy games having more complex terrain.
maps can look nice, but the terrain is often very simple.
Graphically the game is pretty decent given it's age. As an older game it's obviously aged somewhat, though I haven't encountered anything eye gouging. Sound is pretty decent across the board, music is decent and fits the game's fantasy setting though it's nothing particularly memorable. Everything sounds like like you'd expect it to, form the clanging of weapons to the fwoosh of spells being thrown about, though the voice acting can get quite silly at times.

Finally, the AI is unfortunately not very bright. It's mostly just content to harass you with small groups of enemies and rarely if ever sends out any real threats. honestly, the game is less about being a challenge and more about trying all the options you have. Between all of the races and classes to choose there's a lot of things to try, and plenty of units have spells or special abilities to consider. The game is practically an RTS sandbox and it'll take players a long time to exhaust all the options available to them.
pre-mission setup allows you to bring in some additional units to start the map with.
Overall. While it's not a challenge and the multiplayer is virtually non-existent. The single player game offers enough content to keep someone busy for hours. if you like strategy or role playing games that give the player a lot of options to play around with. Warlords Battlecry III is definitely worth checking out.

Warlords Battlecry III was developed by Infinite Interactive and published by Enlight Software. It's available at Gamersgate, GoG or directly from the publisher here. The homepage for Warlords Battlecry 3 can be found here.

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