Stop crying and start CRYING!
Everyone needs a battle cry. Braveheart cried "Freedom!" Captain Kirk startled us all with his mighty "Khhaaaannnn!" Xena charged into battle shrieking her piercing "Ayayalalalalalala!" Both He-Man and She-Ra fought for Greyskull. The mighty Tick strikes fear in the hearts of evildoers everywhere with his ominous "Spooooon!" Apparently, even President W has a battle cry, although it's long and boring and involves prayer, terrorists and tax subsidies.
So if you don't have a battle cry of your own, you can either use this handy form or you might want to check out Warlords: Battlecry II from Ubi Soft. At first it looks like a pretty standard real time strategy game, but it's got a couple cool RPG twists and impressive depth that makes it strangely addicting.
The world of Etheria is at war, for some reason. Mostly, it seems, because you keep attacking your neighbors and taking their land. Sounds like war to me. If you want a story, look somewhere else. Just scream your battle cry, choose your race, and let the other guys have what's coming to them.
You might have to put some thought into choosing your race, though, because Warlords: Battlecry II has 12 of them. That's right -12 fully developed sides including Humans, Barbarians, High Elves, Dark Elves, Wood Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Minotaurs, Undead, and more. Each race has its own unique abilities, buildings and units. And Starcraft thought it was soooo cool to have 3 sides.
But you don't just choose a race; you also choose a hero, whom you see on the battlefield. Your hero has their own stats, abilities, spells and skills, and they gain experience as you play. Based on your race and attributes, you even choose character classes and later sub-classes for your hero. Be a warrior, a wizard or a shaman - it's your choice. Add in some items like the boots of speed, the golden sword, or the adamantine shield to buff you out, and your hero might just be ready for battle. It's not Baldur's Gate, but it's still plenty cool.
How do you go to battle? Well, it's pretty easy actually. You just attack someone.
The map of Etheria lies open before you with 70-some odd areas to conquer. Your
hero fights right there down on the ground with your troops. Win or lose, your
hero will still gain experience from the battle (although you get more if you
Conquering different lands will gain you gold in tribute which you can spend on a number of different things; magic weapons and mercenaries for example. Of course, you must be prepared to defend a battlefield from the occasional attack as well because the 11 kingdoms that are your neighbors (remember those 12 races?) are all trying to take over the world as well.
While functional, the graphics won't impress your friends. Best are the units, which are detailed and extremely well-animated. The terrain, however, is pretty simplistic and bland, with bits of flair (a rock, a tree, a wagon) pinned to it randomly. Worst are the buildings, which are almost comically unimpressive.
The sound is just fine with clanks and zaps during combat and your troops saying all the regular things when you click them - "Yes my lord," "Death to the enemy," etc. But the music really stands out thanks to an impressive orchestral score and some Celtic harp ditties.
The gameplay is very straightforward, direct from the book of real-time strategy games. Build your buildings, mine your resources (4 of them) create some little guys, upgrade them and order them around. Destroy the enemy and you win. Different battlefields may also have unique rules, such as limitations on types of buildings or resources.
Your troops can also gain experience from battle, and those that have done particularly well (and have survived) can become part of your retinue and join you in the next war. Your experienced units may be powerful, but they still cannot hope to match the power of the Titans.
Build a big enough base and mine enough resources and you can summon your race's Titan. These behemoths are the most powerful creatures in the game, but you can only summon one per battle and they cannot be taken with you afterwards.
The most impressive thing about the units is the diverse AI settings. You can choose one of 13 different "attitudes" for each unit or group of units. Want them to guard something, or cast spells, or not cast spells, or stand there like idiots, or be aggressive, or defensive, or just run around the map trying to kill anything they find? You can do it all. The developers must have read GR's complaints about the dumb AI in the first game.
Finished with the single player campaign? Warlords: Battlecry II comes with a random map generator to challenge your hero and any possible spare time you might have left. If that's still not enough and you really need a game that you can dedicate your life to, the robust multiplayer will make sure you never see the light of day again. You can import your powerful heroes from the single player game and scream your battle cry at some organic opponents. There are even 12 different types of multiplayer battles.
Warlords: Battlecry II may look pretty rough on the surface, but there's a lot going on underneath. So much, in fact, that it's hard to describe it all in a review. If you're a value-conscious gamer, it's a very good choice - this might be the highest number of gameplay hours you can get out of a single RTS. While not revolutionary, Warlords: Battlecry II gives the RTS genre a good swift kick in the pants to get it moving again. That's all for now…Hi ho Silver, away!