The Unholy War

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a game by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and Eidos Interactive
Genre: Shooting Games
Platforms: Playstation, PSX
Editor Rating: 7.4/10, based on 4 reviews, 5 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.2/10 - 5 votes
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See also: Fighting Games, Arcade Games
The Unholy War
The Unholy War
The Unholy War
The Unholy War

The Unholy War features 3D combat/strategy action similar to Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, but with a unique twist. Playing as one of two armies (each comprised of 16 characters with various attacks and special abilities), it's your job to defeat the enemy and conquer areas on a giant grid. Instead of turn-based combat, however, UW features real-time skirmishes--just like in a one-on-one fighting game. Another interesting feature is in the two-player game, where you and a friend take turns moving your forces across the battlefield, then go head-to-head in combat. You can also duke it out in the Team Battle mode. Can The Unholy War become the combat/strategy-genre ruler? Find out when the war begins in August.

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System requirements:

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

System requirements:

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

Game Reviews

People say:


Remember Archon back in the day? The Unholy War plays a lot like what you'd expect a 32-Bit, 3D update of that to be, which is a very good thing (Archon is a classic!). The concept is pretty much the same: match off two creatures at a time in head-to-head battles (you can do it in a straightforward deathmatch fashion or in a simple strategy board game). The sheer variety in characters and their methods of attack are what makes this game an instant hit. When I first gave the game a go, I was sure the simplistic three-button attack format would quickly grow tiresome and repetitive (hey, pressing a button to launch a special attack takes no skill!). But I soon discovered every character is unique, and to get good at the game, I'd have to learn to use all of the v/arriors and their respective arsenals. This gives The Unholy War a healthy dose of replay value, always a big plus in my book. This game, like Archon, is best played with two people--if you're the solo gaming type, you may not dig The Unholy War as I much as I do. Some of the characters are a bit unbalanced-some battles are over in a blink of an eye because a strong fighter got in a few lucky shots. But that gripe is a minor one. The Unholy War is still a great game. If you're still not convinced, this disc has a beautiful Kain demo...


The more I play Unholy War, the more I love it. Those of you who have been into games for years will be able to spot the pedigree behind this as the Star Control and Archon heritage is more than apparent in gameplay. As a two-player game it's great fun, especially in melee combat. Playing on your own though, the strategy game is the one to go for. The mix of 3D action and simple, board game-like tactics is wonderful.


The Unholy War is a very interesting and original game. Though fun, the One-player Modes are slightly repetitious at times--probably due to weak Al. I had more fun with the different two-player scenarios, especially the Strategy Mode of play. Don't get me wrong, the full-on Battle Modes are fun but the game just lends itself to strategy. Overall, The Unholy War is one to check out, even though it can be repetitive.


Unholy War comes across as something of a cross between Virtual On and Archon, but it doesn't really do either game justice. The straight action stuff is fun, but it gets old too quickly. It's definitely better with two players. On the other hand, the Strategy Mode is nice and polished, but it's just too simple for strat buffs. UW is great for a quick diversion, but for long-term replayability, you'd better look elsewhere. Perfect for a rental.


This is a strategy-action game that is heavy on the action and light on the strategy. The core of the game is pitting a warrior against another warrior on an open three-dimensional battlefield. It’s kind of a cross between a board game like checkers and a fighting game. Each warrior can jump or use one of three moves to attempt to defeat enemies.


There are two modes to the game. Mayhem mode is kind of like a large tag-team wrestling match. It is the pure fighting portion of the game. You choose a battlefield and a warrior and go toe-to-toe against an enemy warrior. If you lose, you can bring in one (at a time) of each of the other warrior types until you have lost them all or finished off all the opponents' pieces. This is a good mode to practice for the strategy mode. Also make sure you play both sides versus the computer, so you can get a good glimpse of each of the warriors' capabilities in action. Also, occasionally a powerup will appear on the field, giving whoever gets it first a temporary super-ability like jumping, speed or invincibility.

In Strategy mode, you either play the good guys or the bad guys (you can decide which is which). You play one of the two armies, the Arcanes or the Teknos. Each army is made up of different races of warriors. Each of your warriors (or pieces on the board) has its own name, so you can have more than one of a particular race. You can only have a total of ten pieces for each side of each army on the board, but you can also retire warriors and replace them with better ones.

Each of the 12 scenarios starts you out with a variety of starting groups. It depends on which scenario you play as to who goes first. On your turn, you can move your pieces or use one of your pieces' special abilities (any combination of three moves and/or ability uses per turn). If you move next to an enemy, you can fight that enemy for the right to occupy the hex it is sitting on. When you fight, you move to the battlefield (just like Mayhem mode) view. Each race of warrior has strengths and weaknesses against warriors from the enemy army, kind of like playing a game of rock-paper-scissors.

AUR is an essential mineral in this game. You must have AUR to use special abilities. The Teknos can do things like launch nuclear missiles, heal existing damage, make your guys temporarily stronger, put up temporary spinning razor walls, self-destructing, maddening enemies and teleporting up to eight hexes. The Arcanes' special abilities include cloning, teleporting other pieces up to five hexes, draining power from enemy pieces, doing damage from a distance, knocking opponents back one hex, healing existing damage, or blocking with fiery walls.

There are three levels of strategy to the game:

First, there is the map, laid out in hexes. Most maps have mines of AUR that you will want to mine from and defend your control of. Each side has one warrior which can mine 40 AUR per turn; other warriors can get some amount less than that by mining. The later maps have more hexes than the early ones. Each of the races has a movement value which limits how far you can move the piece. Some maps have three-dimensional landscapes which can only be reached by adjacent hexagons (i.e., you can’t climb up or jump off cliffs). Your ultimate goal is to destroy the enemy, but your intermediate goal is to control and mine the AUR mines. AUR is also used to buy more pieces, but only from a base. When you have a sufficient force you can move to destroy the enemy base.

Then there is the related strategy of trying to pit your pieces against the enemy's pieces most effectively in battles. For example, against the Normal AI computer. most of the pieces are quickly blown away by the Jaeger's missiles. These advantage/disadvantage matchups are further complicated by the fact that some landscapes take away the usual advantage. For instance, there is one landscape based around a large magnetic field, which constantly yanks the pieces in directions you may not appreciate.

Finally, there is the strategy that you use in the actual battles. Even though some pieces may be weak against other opponents, you can still master the skill of staying alive until you finish opponents off. It is important to practice in Mayhem mode until you have basic strategies for every possible combination of matchup. Some pieces are clearly superior, so they cost more AUR. Each piece generally has a move to use depending on the distance from the enemy; for example, the Jaeger can launch heat-seeking missiles from a distance, use lasers from medium range, or get in a wicked punch from close range.

The AI has three difficulty levels and you can choose to play either side against the AI. You can also play head-to-head against a friend.


Nothing flashy here. The menus are displayed on a big robot-shaped thing with extended legs. There are a number of different landscapes, each of which leads to a specific battlefield. Some of the battlefields make it difficult to see, especially when you are attempting some maneuver to outwit your opponent. At best, these graphics are average.

Bottom Line

This game is slightly more fun than checkers, because it is a video game and you can manufacture the type of army you dream up. However, you will probably have plenty of games you like better than this one. That said, it is fun and compelling in some ways. If you like fighting games that are based more on rock-paper-scissors logic and less on highly specialized memorized keystrokes for fancy moves (like most of the fighting games), perhaps you would appreciate this game.

Those of you with a penchant for quality games will no doubt respect the pedigree for this one. The team behind it has previously worked on such classics as Archon (remember that?), Star Control and The Horde and throughout their history they have had an uncanny knack for blending cerebral strategy gaming with more mass-market "action" appeal.

Unholy War is no different-and like the team's previous efforts it allows you to play in a variety of different ways--as a "story" game which is a long campaign, as a combat game, or as a two-player "melee" combat-fest that completely ignores the strategy side of things and just lets you jump straight in and kick ass.

Set on an alien world the game provides an effective mix of fantasy style magic, sorcery and swordplay with high-tech machinery, spaceships and the all-important laser guns. Think Final Fantasy Tactics and Vandal Hearts mixed with Star Control and Return Fire and you're half way to understanding what this is like.

The background to the game deals with an (un)holy war between the inhabitants of Xsarra (alien fantasy names never have enough vowels in them)--the swords 'n' magic people, and the invading Teknos--the spaceships and laser guns people. There s a long and complicated story leading up to the actions of the game-but the upshot of it all is that there's now a big punch-up just waiting to happen. Much like the trend in recent Japanese strategy RPGs, the story unfolds through animated set-pieces that make use of the games' polygonal engine. So good is the presentation of the game itself that it has been possible for the development team to seamlessly integrate story elements without having to render lengthy CG animations.

Taking control of either side, the game is played on two levels--the strategic, which is a 3D turn and hex-based strategy game (not as bad as it sounds... promise) and then the action. When two opposing factions meet, the game changes into a 3D action battle set within a small arena. This is where the Star Control analogies come in, as the mechanics of play are very similar to the battles in this timeless classic where you pick your individual combatant and then control him in a fight to the death.

The game is filled with some beautiful effects, most notably some of the magic effects instigated by the Xsarrans--but what's most important is that the game-play draws on some proven ideas that have been updated to fit in with the current wave of Japanese action/strategy titles.

  • MANUFACTURER - Fox Interactive
  • THEME - Shooter
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2

Part real-time strategy saga, part tactical RPG wannabe, The Unholy War's final mix is a very interesting take on chess for the PlayStation generation.

Playing on a hexagonal map that might as well be a chessboard, you move your units to mining locations in order to gather 'Aur, a magical substance that allows you to summon more warriors. As you amass a force powerful enough to topple your opponent's base, the "pieces" battle in 3D arcade-style action sequences in interactive environments.

Though working from a unique gaming model, Wads developers fumbled the ball. Firstly, the ho-hum sound is a combination of standard gothic music and laser-style zapping and pounding. The interface is easy to master, and ingame help menus recall each character's abilities--but actual combat can be extremely difficult because airborne attackers can't draw a bead on one another.

Scant lighting-effects highlight the otherwise-uninspiring battle sequences--though it's especially disappointing that the fighters and environments don't reflect their damage. Luckily, the variety of characters, and the art of neutralizing them with the best matchups, keeps the battles interesting.

Ultimately, The Unholy War's greatest strength is its competition. With adjustable difficulty levels and a practice mode for the combat interface, this game is easy to learn, but nearly impossible to master--especially against a human opponent. If intellectual challenges are more important to you than flashy graphics or whiz-bang sound, check out this game.


  • Use Jaegers, which mine twice as fast, to dig for the precious Aur. If necessary, defend them with Razorfanes.
  • On the Deadlands map, take your enemy's Aur supply as soon as possible with Razorfanes. If you control the majority of Aur, victory is just a matter of time.
  • Razorfanes are excellent warriors, faring well against air-and land-based enemies.
  • The Mantis's extending pincer makes it tops for early land battles. Use them against the quick-striking Prana Devils.

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