|a game by||Nival, Inc.|
|User Rating:||7.0/10 - 2 votes|
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When the original Etherlords arrived on the scene two years ago, it caused a bit of a stir. Mainly because it was the first turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy universe that didn't feature graphics straight from Satan's bottom. Two years later, it's back - and while the visuals haven't changed a great deal, they still look as good as they did two years ago. No doubt you'll be wondering what has changed, what can be counted as new and what the hell the developers have been doing for the last two years. The answer, in a nutshell, is not a lot'.
That said, the gameplay has been slimmed down somewhat in Etherlords II. The traditional top-down turn-based adventure and resource gathering section is gone, replaced by simplified real-time exploration. The developer claims it wanted to take some of the complexity out of the game, but what it's actually done is taken all the complexity out. There's very little to do now between battles except follow a linear path, talking to the occasional NPC, buying spells in shops and tiresomely picking up whatever resources are left in your tracks. The entire game is now geared towards getting you into the next battle with a minimum of fuss.
This in itself may have been acceptable if it wasn't for the fact the adventure interludes are as dull as they are unavoidable, and the introduction of some of the worst voiceovers ever in a PC title certainly doesn't help either. The actors who supplied the voices appear to change their minds mid-sentence as to whether they're English, Scottish, Irish or just some wacky hybrid of all three. What's more, while it's fairly hilarious the first time you hear them, you'll soon find yourself turning off the sound till you get to the combat sections.
Unfortunately, these NPCs are key to the game's rather predictable storyline. The narrative varies depending on which hero you're playing, but basically amounts to the fact someone has invaded your territory and it's up to you to sort them out. Yes, it really is that simple.
Get Your Kicks
The adventure sections use a top-down view that you can rotate slightly and zoom a little, but it's fair to say the camera angles are a great example of how not to make a viewpoint for a computer game. Generally speaking, the new exploration section is pretty close to something that rhymes with trap'. Thankfully, most of your time will be spent away from this mess doing what comes naturally: killing things for kicks.
The good news is the combat is as good as it ever was, but again, this is mainly because it's identical to how it was before. If you missed the first game, we're talking classic turn-based spell-casting here, as you pit your hero against a variety of magic-using opponents and try to reduce their hit points to zero. The depth and strategy of the game comes through the huge selection of spells you're able to choose from, ranging from defensive walls and simple summoning spells to spectacular asteroid strikes. Acquiring and collecting these can become bloody addictive -and there are over 300 of the buggers - though you may soon tire of summoning endless rats and bats.
In For A Spell
The other big draw is the new online multiplayer mode. With both one-off duels and grand elimination-style tournaments available, the online game has potential to add longevity and depth to Etherlords II. Then again, we can't help but feel that only Germans and the terminally bored will be hardcore enough to bother, but feel free to prove us wrong.
All things considered, Etherlords II feels like a far less than the original. The graphics are still beautiful compared to most competing games, and Etherlords II retains the title of best-looking turn-based combat game on the market. This might be enough for some, but if you liked the strategic elements from the first game, Etherlords II may well prove to be a big disappointment. Fortunately, there's a demo kicking around, so we strongly suggest you try before you buy.
Kings And Castles
The Struggle For Territory Is No More
As has already been mentioned elsewhere in the review, the overhead map sections are now greatly simplified. This means taking control of/defending castles and other points of note are no longer a part of the game. You no longer need to defend vital resources from the enemy, so the strategic side of the campaigns is gone. If you played the first game and remember the tension as you approached high-level enemies on the overhead map while preparing your plans for a takeover, you'll no doubt be disappointed at losing what was for many one of the best aspects of the game. It's all part of the new user-friendly' Etherlords. Hey, at least they left the combat in...
Download Etherlords 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP