Wanna be a hero?
The Warlords series has been around for a solid decade, having first made its appearance as a DOS game in 1989. The sequel, Warlords II, made its mark on the gaming world with excellent replay value and helped to establish the turn-based strategy genre. The third installment was yet another strong addition to the franchise, though without 3D graphics and flying body parts, too few gamers had still heard enough about it.
In an effort to keep up with the times, developer SSG (Strategic Studies Group) and Red Orb are gearing up to bring you Warlords: Battlecry, which strays from its turn-based roots by adopting a real-time engine. But never fear - this isn't just another copycat.
The selling point in Battlecry is the concept of a persistent hero. Players create a hero from scratch, and as they win scenarios, their hero gains experience points. These are then transferred into skill points, which the player divvies out to give their hero unique talents. With 8 different races and 16 separate character classes, there's plenty of variety.
This role-playing element really does wonders for replay values and strategies. You can raise your hero as anything from a Ranger to a Wizard to a Priest. You can make a hardy fighter or a lithe magic-user. The vast plethora of skills that can be modified leads to a new kind of RTS depth.
In fact, your hero's prowess can have a strong impact on your other units. Each hero has a 'command radius.' Units inside of this circle gain bonuses based on the hero's skills, much like a general leading his troops into battle.
Of course, not all heroes prefer hand-to-hand combat. In turn, the use of spells is of paramount importance in Battlecry. Covering 10 different 'Spheres' of magic, there are a whopping 90 distinct spells to discover. The spells themselves are considered skills, as opposed to other games that consider magic a simple matter of research in a temple. Again, this leads to the creation of very unique heroes. Will your Paladin be equipped primarily with healing spells, or would you like to break the mold and give him the power to summon creatures as well? The choice, thankfully, is yours.
Speaking of choices, the Campaign mode in Battlecry presents the delightful decision of whether to follow the Path of Good or the Path of Evil. One of these days I'll get around to checking out the Path of Good...
The game engine focuses on efficiency over flash, though you'll find plenty of whizz-bang particle and lighting effects. Lightning ripping through enemies, flames engulfing buildings - the game world is brought to life.
The persistent hero concept really helps this game stand out from the masses. Coupled with a scenario editor and featuring full multi-player support, Warlords Battlecry look to breathe new life into the RTS genre.
RTS fans rejoice! Warlords Battlecry is set to ship in May 2000 for the PC.