Second Opinion Preview: Warlords
Posted on Friday, July 15 @ 11:04:05 PST by Eddy_DS_FettigThese days, it seems like everything that hits the market is a resurgence of something old come back to life, much like zombies wearing fresh duds. That's not always a bad thing, though – contrary to what Transformers fans will tell you about the recent film adaptations. Atari has seen fit to summon back one of their elder arcade games from the grave to take up arms once again in the rehaul/reboot/rehash/recreation of Warlords, and after some time with the downloadable XBLA/PSN title, I can say that developer Griptonite Games is definitely working hard to ensure that it feels less like a zombie reborn from ages past and more like a quirky reboot worthy of playing with friends.
Having no personal experience with the original Warlords, I found its genuine arcade-style challenge welcoming. Its cartoony characters in HD with comical voices and animations caught me off guard for a game named Warlords. Admittedly, the graphics and sound cater more toward a younger audience who will find knights prancing in tutus and sipping juice boxes hilarious, distinguishing it from the gritty, dark reboots that just about everyone else is trying these days.
That said, unlike the goofy knights would have you believe, the difficulty isn't a pushover. I was even struggling to keep up on the first level of the campaign. Once things get rolling, there's a lot to take in.
On the surface, Warlords is basically Breakout with a four-player focus. While players still move a paddle to bounce a ball into layers of bricks, Warlords uses this same mechanic but adds various concepts. Arenas are laid out with one castle in each corner—thus, four players—with one 'Warlord' protected by its thick stone walls. The knights look straight out of Castle Crashers, even going as far as to have elemental attributes—rather suspiciously so, but given the game's popularity, it's hard to blame them.
Any medieval setting wouldn't be complete without dragons, of course, and the bastards periodically whiz by to blast out additional fireballs onto the battlefield. They're damn resilient, though, and will bounce around indefinitely until they strike a Warlord, razing his castle to ash. Fortunately, each warlord comes equipped with... er... psychic abilities and big-ass shields to deflect those pesky fireballs away from their own castles and into their opponents. Obviously, that's the most efficient solution. The flaming balls can even be caught by the shields and charged for speedy counterattacks, but unless you're the kind who grabs piping hot pans with your bare hands, you won't want to charge them for more than a split second unless you want their heat to damage your own walls further.
These basic rules result in a four-way Pong fight with five or more fireballs flying around at once. This alone can get insane as the speed picks up, but it wouldn't be a proper reboot without adding even more complexity to the mix. That's where Snoots come in, disposable knights each Warlord controls who are all happy and eager to throw their meaningless lives away for the sake of granting their masters power-ups. Snoots are led around no man's land with the right control stick, while the player's shield is rotated around his or her castle with the left stick.
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