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Published by:
Mindscape, Inc.

Game Genre:
Turn-Based Strategy

Game Cheats:
Are Available

Requirements:
Pentium 75, 16 Megs RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 16-bit Sound Board, Mouse, DirectX 6

Retail Price:
$39.95
Our Ratings:
Features

Graphics

Sound FX

Gameplay

Overall

Screenshots:
Warlords III: Darklords Rising


Game Review - by StormDaemon
Warlords III: Darklords Rising is the excellent stand alone sequel to Warlords III: Reign of Heroes that has much more features and campaigns, and it also includes the original campaign from Reign of Heroes for those who might have never experienced it, or want to experience it with all the new monsters, items, heroes, and AI. While at first glance this game may seem a bit weak when compared to many other strategy games out there, it actually holds its own and then some, seemingly carving out its own little niche. Combining good qualities from real time and turn based games, this turn based strategy game is both fun and addicting.

Storyline:The evil Lord Bane is back from the nether realms with a vengeance. His goal is to take over all of the land of Etheria, and destroy the good Lord Albion who had imprisoned Bane years ago. You can choose to control either side in their campaigns against the other, ultimately determining who will take control of the world. Along your quest, you will be joined by heroes, build armies, and take control of castles and cities, but through all of that, good strategy must be used, otherwise your opponent will destroy your forces and rule the land.

Features:Darklords featured many different items of interest that really made it stand out among the crowd of strategy games. The first one is the Hero system, which involves having main characters that can get special items, powers, and spells and usually are the leaders of your armies. Having a hero whom you keep throughout the campaign adds more of a role-playing feel to the game and makes it a whole lot more interesting. The heroes can be of different classes and be either male or female, and each has their own name and abilities. They can certainly be killed, and are not incredibly more powerful than the other units, but they can do several things that other units can not do, such as cast spells. Darklords also includes 35 spells, 40 abilities, and many different items, all of which are sure to keep heroes on their toes.

Single player and multi-player action is available, with many options for both. One of the more original ways of playing multi-player, which has not been done in a very long time is by email. Since you play the game by turns, this is allowed. The game will make a file after your turn which you can email to someone and they can play their turn, and you go back and forth like that until one person wins. The game also has an option to detect cheating and inform you of it, so fair games are highly encouraged. Playing over the Internet against up to 7 other people is also allowed, which is as expected.

A map editor, random map creator, and a campaign editor are also included within the game to further enhance the playing experience. Any type of scenario can be created, and if you are just up for a quick game, a random map can be created and played on. A campaign can also be designed for use by any Darklords player.

Gameplay:For a game that looks as simplistic as this one does, it is really surprising with the complex level of play that it actually has. Don't let the looks fool you because in order to win a lot of intelligence must be used, although a whole bunch of dragons can help too. One of the best parts of the game play is that even though a dragon could defeat a simple group of soldiers easily, there is still a chance, albeit a small one, that the weaker can win. I've even had it happen a few times, both to my pleasure and chagrin. In order to help with battles and such, Darklords allows you to stack up to 8 units together, and they will all move as one and fight as one. Some units can even be banded together, which means that as their number increases, so do their individual statistics. Each unit has several different things about them, which are measure, such as strength, defense, movement, morale, spells, and abilities. All of that has to be taken into account at all times in order to do well in the game, because otherwise, the enhanced artificial intelligence will be sure to take advantage of your weaknesses. Not too much can be about the AI other than that it is pretty good, and responds well to the difficulty settings. Another game feature that ties in with the AI is the personality feature. Personality points can be spent by each player and the AI, to give abilities to the player and their armies. The AI also takes advantage of this by using the largest number of points spent by a player and buying different abilities as well.

Multi-player is very interesting with its different types of games available. Up to eight players can experience a version of Capture the Flag, North vs. South, Instant Chaos, Utopia, and many more different types of play. All are pretty fun and can keep you occupied for hours.

Graphics:The graphics within Darklords are really nice, with the only part that is not that great being the unit graphics and animations, but they are still good enough for the game. The pictures, movies, terrain, and details are all very well done and look great. The pictures remind me of medieval fantasy, which suits the game quite well, while the movies look good and add a lot to the atmosphere. There are several different types of terrain's, all of which have little details making everything look good and not at all run of the mill. All of the menus are detailed and look great which is very refreshing considering most games ignore the look and feel of the menus, which are some of the most used parts of the game.

Throughout the whole game there was the atmosphere of medieval fantasy which pervaded everything, especially the graphics. The menus all had somewhat Celtic drawings as the borders and all of the buttons were scrolls, which looked really cool. The fonts of the letters were all in a medieval tone and looked nice as well. Other than some of the graphics being a bit too simplistic for my tastes at times, I could not find anything wrong with how the game looked.

Sound FX:The best part of the sound effects for this game would have to be the background music. The music goes very well with the medieval theme and even has the option of reacting to events that happen during the game, making everything that much more enrapturing. While it was not an orchestra of masterpieces, the music did sound really cool and stood out during the game, which makes it that much better. The rest of the sounds were not as great as the music, but the battle sounds were good and so was everything else that accompanied events in the game.

Overall:Darklords was a fun and addicting turn based strategy game that is sure please many people who enjoy that type of gaming. The gameplay was complex, different, and refreshing with all of its available features, including playing over email, which I thought was a really good idea. The missions are all fun and difficult, and actually tie into the story, which is a rarity in today's et of action games. The graphics, which lacked a little bit at times, were in general really nice and helped to heavily promote the atmosphere of medieval fantasy. The sounds were all good, but the in game music was the best of them all and really helped the whole feel of the game. With all of those things considered, this was an overall fun game that kept me playing for hours on end.


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