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PC Game Review

Spellforce Universe


Format: PC
JoWood Games
9 006113 156116
Age Restrictions: 12+
Available 04 April 2008

In their quest for ultimate power thirteen mages have ripped the world asunder leaving only a number of islands in their wake. In this post apocalyptic world man, elves and orcs all vie for power, using whatever force or magic at their disposal. With only two Mages left, ‘The Dark One’ and Rohen, you are caught between the two mighty forces with a mission to save your world...

Spellforce Universe contains the first two of the Spellforce games, The Order of Dawn and The Shadow Wars, including the expansion packs. The games strength is in its ability to combine two disparate gaming types. This has many elements of a role playing game which has been seamlessly paired with elements of a real time strategy game. Strangely enough the blending works well making for a rewarding game.

Even though the games are, for the most part, only a few years old, graphically they are now lagging behind the best of what either consoles or the PC can produce, that said the games remain visually impressive. Phenomic has produced a rich and detailed land for the players enjoyment and I soon found myself immersed in this new realm.

Spellforce has a number of game-play options, the strongest of which is the Single Player Campaign, where you play the central role of Rune Warrior taking on numerous quests over satisfyingly large maps. Though this may not appeal to the hack and slash crowd, as the pace can often seem slow, it allows time for a more thoughtful strategy for all the armchair generals, like myself. If you do want to get straight into a bit of personal carnage then the game allows you to play in skirmish mode against the computer, across a LAN or against strangers on the internet. The last play option is the Free Game, where you get to play any of the maps in whatever order suits limited only by your Avatars abilities.

I have previously slammed some JoWood games for their appalling control systems, not so with Spellforce. Control of your characters and actions is pretty straight forward and although it comes with an in-depth manual the game contains one of the most comprehensive tutorials I think I have ever seen. It is further enhanced by making the tutorial the prologue for Spellforce, so not only do you get to learn the controls, but you also feel that you have made some game progression.

You play the game as an Avatar, a being which you have a certain amount of leeway in designing. With your new character in place you can explore the world, build new towns to gather resources, a necessity if you want to raise workers or an army. With each quest that you complete your Avatar rises up the ranks, giving you the ability to increase his or her various attributes, a strangely addictive quality of most role playing games. You can play the game in either top down mode, or with a flick of the mouse wheel change to a third person perspective.

This is not the only way to make your character stronger as, along the way, you can pick up equipment and runes from fallen foes. The runes are central to the plot as they imbue the owner with magical abilities, opening up the possibility of using both use passive offensive and defensive spells. If you don’t fancy all that running around, the game also has a merchant system where many upgrades can be bought.

Like most games of this ilk there are a ton of weapons, armour and abilities to collect to brain your opponents with, when you’re not building more settlements. Given the often ludicrous size of the maps, getting around has been taken care of with large stones which act as teleports. The only limitation here is that only you, and not your army, can use these.

Overall these games have held up well, given their age. The story remains engaging, with voice acting which doesn’t detract, and a persistent world. When I first started playing the game I was thinking what the hell is up with the graphics until the penny dropped and I realised that the game is keeping time providing a day and night cycle, nice one.


Charles Packer

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