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a game by Nival, Inc.
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 3 votes
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See also: RTS Games

Heroes Of Might & Magic, Warlords 1-3, Civilization. All of these games have something in common aside from the obvious fact that they are all turn-based strategy games. Each one of them treats combat almost as an afterthought, and indeed some of them seem to go miles out of their way to ensure that their combat sequences are as dull and unexciting as is humanly possible. The old argument - that games of this nature don't rely on combat, and strategy is all-important - is an argument that should be treated with the contempt it deserves. Yes, games of this nature rely on strategy for their appeal. No, the combat scenes don't have to be obscenely bad just because they are part of a strategy game.

Developers Fishtank would appear to agree with me on this particular point. Etherlords is indeed a tactical combat game with resource management elements similar to its peers in the genre. However, the similarity ends abruptly at this point. The combat scenes in Etherlords are not only challenging and thought-provoking, the 3D battle visuals and animations are absolutely stunning. This feature alone is revolutionary given the half-arsed excuses for combat that are prevalent in every single game in this genre.

We Could Be Heroes

The premise behind the game is a simple one. As one of four races, Kinets, Uitals, Chaots or Synths, you must collect resources (for spell ingredients), and guide a group of Heroes across a map. You kill enemy heroes and monsters in one-on-one battles, gaining experience and levels, and finally conquering enemy castles to ensure victory. It's nothing you haven't seen or done in Heroes Of Might & Magic and other games ot this ilk, but everything about Etherlords exudes style and polish and shows a very obvious effort from Fishtank to create the most compelling and visually striking turn-based strategy game on PC. The sheer scope for tactical variety is staggering, and helps prolong Etherlords' shelf life well beyond that of many of its counterparts, while the five levels of difficulty, 64 highly customisable heroes to enhance and develop, and two extensive campaigns also add greatly to its longevity.

Age-Old Question

Whether this is enough to convert non-fans of the genre remains to be seen. As addictive and polished as Etherlords is, underneath the glossy exterior there still lies a turn-based tactical combat game (which is enough to prompt the word 'geek' from many RTS fans). That said, it's a damned good one, so if you're a fan of the genre you owe it to yourself to have this in your collection.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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