Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness is basically a war/strategy game. This is a war between the Orcish Hordes and the Human forces of Azeroth. Whether you decide to aid the orc or the human cause, the tasks of your missions are much the same: destroy an enemy encampment, rescue a captured ally, or immolate an enemy oil refinery, to name a few. As you beat back the forces of the opposition, you must have your peons or peasants constantly gather resources (gold, lumber, and oil) for your use in building a superior war machine. Eventually, the human forces will destroy the Dark Portal through which the Orcish Hordes have come to Azeroth. The Orc campaign ends with the orcs establishing a firm hold on their position in the human kingdom of Azeroth.
I must admit that the graphics of Warcraft 2 threw me off a bit at first. After playing Command and Conquer a great deal, the cartoonish look and feel of Warcraft 2 was hard to take seriously. But once I delved deeper into the play of the game, what seemed childish soon became endearing. Since Warcraft 2 is set in a fantasy realm where orcs and humans €battle for supremacy, realism only partially applies as a category anyway. Still, the game is more realistic in its action than in its graphics—keeping in mind that the graphics were not intended to represent reality. There is also enough graphic brutality to please most wargame enthusiasts. But after you've killed ten or twenty helpless "critters" and have witnessed the extremely disturbing yet comical way in which they expire, you tire of that novelty and concentrate on the mission at hand. Among the nicer touches in Warcraft 2 is the "Fog of War," which allows you to see only those parts of the battlefield where your troops have been sent. If you have sent troops through an area and they were demolished, you will still be able to view that area's layout and buildings, but not the actual forces of the enemy. There are also several video sequences that appear at points of major accomplishment in the story, but while they were a nice break from the action, I didn't really feel that they added to the overall quality of the game.
Game setup is easy, taking about 10 minutes or so. The only annoying fact I must mention is that if you load into Windows with the CD in your drive, you will get a little window about Warcraft 2, asking you if you would like to install it, even if you already have. This would seem to be a minor annoyance, which it really is, but once I was jolted out of bed because this screen popped up and started blaring some march music out of my poor Yamaha speakers. I guess that teaches me not to leave the CD in the drive and have my sound set louder in Windows than DOS; still ... a silly occurence that may have been comical to me (upon reflection) could perhaps send some unsuspecting senior citizen into premature cardiac arrest.
Moving on to more positive ground, I thought the documentation that came with Warcraft 2 was great. Each unit is illustrated and its characteristics defined completely. The only minor gripe I had was that some of the descriptions were too colorful to be clear—for instance, some of the descriptions of the Mage's spells might tell you that the "Mage will use the lightning bolt to utterly vanquish the enemies of Azeroth from the sacred land." A nice feeling to it, but not very helpful when you're trying to decide whether that spell might be enough to protect your paladins on their next jaunt into the Orcish stronghold. Nevertheless, the manual provided a wonderful reference during gameplay. Often, while learning the game, I would see a chance to build a new structure and have my wife read the description to me, so that I could continue hacking away at those poor enemy dimwits who dared to get in my way.
If you're familiar at all with Westwood's Command and Conquer, you'll feel right at home playing Warcraft 2. You simply point and click on your guys and then click on the object you want them to manipulate ... click on an enemy and they'll attack; click on trees and your peons or peasants will harvest them. This manner of controlling your forces makes it very easy to handle many tasks at once, which is paramount to success. You are able to gather resources, scout new territories, and fight the mother of all battles—all at once. One advantage that Warcraft 2 has over Command and Conquer is the ability to build non-adjacent structures. This allows you to build guard towers and such at your camp's perimeter without "sandbagging" out there. To be fair, I heard that C&C: Red Alert was supposed to allow non-adjacent structures as well. In Warcraft 2, I also like the fact that you can rebuild all your structures: as long as you have the money and at least one peon or peasant to do the building. It was always a drag in C&C—especially head-to-head play—when your "friend" snuck an engineer into your construction yard via helicopter, and you had to concede because you couldn't rebuild it—even if you had $20,000 tucked away. Comparisons aside, Warcraft 2 has a very intuitive and fun-to-use interface.
The worst thing about the audio for Warcraft 2 is the narration before each mission. Can you say "overacting?" But I was very pleased overall with the game's consistently nice audio touches. The various characters in Warcraft 2 have very distinct and colorful personalities, mainly characterized by their reactions to your commands—for instance, the peasant's cry "Yes, me Lord," or the Paladin's "For the King!" Some of the effects are gruesome, such as the dying wail of the various critters. Music itself is fairly nonexistent during the missions, which suits me just fine—it really isn't needed since the richness of the sound effects provides a nice backdrop for the action. There is, however, some fitting, warlike music used under the narration and during the video sequences.
486DX\33, 8 MB RAM, SVGA video card, 2X CD-ROM drive
Recommended: Pentium, 16 MB RAM, a really good mouse
Reviewed on: P-120, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, Diamond Stealth 64 video card
I had a lot of fun playing Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness. Although the game had its share of shortcomings, I felt that its good points heavily outweighed them. I am pleased to award Warcraft 2 a generous score of 89.
Download Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Almost Two Years After The release of Warcraft, the sequel arrives with a continuation of the original plot (ie "let's all save Azeroth from nasty ores", for those who don't know) and all the characters from the first game have been kept too, so you just might be wondering exactly what the designers have been up to during the lengthy gap between the two titles. Well, as it happens, they've introduced lots of new features for the sequel, although you'd never think so from the first hour of play. To be honest, my first impressions of Warcraft 2 were less than favourable.
I had a good look at the manual and was confronted with a lengthy section explaining the history of Azeroth and all its heroes and legends. It goes on and on about people with names that nobody can pronounce (except whoever made them up in the first place), and does nothing to set the scene for the game or give you any great desire to play it. Worse still, when you first load the thing up you are subjected to an intro which features the most idiotic voice-over I've ever heard in a computer game. Let's face it, if you're interviewing candidates to perform a voice-over for a highly polished cd-rom title, it's hardly likely that you're going to pick someone with a highly embarrassing speech impediment. Imagine David Bellamy in a state of feverish excitement trying desperately hard to pronounce lots of words featuring the dreaded letter 'R' and failing miserably, and you've got the Warcraft intro in a nutshell. Even bloody simple stuff like 'brave warriors' suddenly becomes 'bwave wawwiors' and while we all found this highly amusing in the office, it's hardly the sort of thing that atmospheric intros are made of. Still, as always it's the actual game that matters, and when I finally got to the opening level I was greeted with...
Warcraft 2 has hi-res graphics which, it has to be said, look very impressive indeed when compared to the graphics in the first game. The sprites are very big with lots of detail, and the scenery graphics are rich and.colourful. Suitably impressed with all this graphical loveliness, I innocently began to click on a few sprites when... disaster struck! The voice-over from hell was back! Click on a peasant and they respond with 'wot iz it?' in the dumbest accent you've ever heard. Click on a footman and he says your owders?' and so on. This was just too much. I went straight to the options screen, turned unit acknowledgments off, and when I went back to the game there was sweet, sweet silence. Finally I could get round to playing the damned thing without having to listen to the most irritating twerp in the universe.
I suppose that the obvious question to raise at this point for anyone who's played the first game is: "Has it got any better?" Well, yes it has, although apart from the obvious improvements in the graphics you won't notice any major leaps in the gameplay itself until you've played four or five levels of the game. This is because Blizzard (the designers) have kept the learning curve for the sequel pretty much the same as it was in the original, in as much as each new level introduces a new aspect of game-play. This will probably suit newcomers to the game, but it's bound to piss off Warcraft veterans. The game's designers seem to think that the average pc gamer can only cope with getting used to one ;jor two new elements of gameplay per level - come on guys, we're not stupid you know. If they'd made the first level bigger they could have taught the player all the basics in the game (which aren't exactly difficult: you cut trees for wood, mine for gold, train peasants to do your work etc), but as it stands you have to plod through loadsa levels before you get into the real meat.
When you finally get there, you'll discover lots of new things to play with. You now get fighter ships, transport ships for taking your units across the sea, scout planes, new ground vehicles, cannon and scout towers to keep the enemy at bay, lots of new mage spells and a much higher level of resource management than was offered in the first game. This all adds up to make the whole thing challenging and rewarding.
Whereas the original Warcraft was a tad too easy and the gameplay repetitive after continuous play, the sequel really is genuinely difficult when you get to the later levels, and the missions are varied enough to keep you interested right up until the end. Apart from the speech, the only thing that really pissed me off about the game was the artificial intelligence (or the lack of it, as it were). Take this as an example: send a peasant off to cut some wood and he'll go off and cut down trees miles away from where you sent him, stupidly ignoring a big bunch of trees right beside the lumber mill he's meant to come back to. And the fighters are a bit thick, too; if you don't tell them to attack specific targets they'll often just stand around admiring the scenery instead of taking the initiative and kicking the shit out of the nearest baddie. None of this sort of stuff would ever happen in a game like Command & Conquer, and that's why I've scored the game in the low eighties rather than closer to ninety.
Apart from the dodgy Al...
Okay, so it has to be said that the dodgy ai is slightly annoying - but it doesn't change the fact that overall Warcraft 2 is a very addictive and enjoyable game. It's even better still if you are able to take advantage of the multi-player option and take on a human opponent over a network. It's a definite 'must buy' for anyone who liked the original.
Nostalgia Is a wonderful thing. Actually, I'm lying, nostalgia is usually little more than a distorted and over-romanticised view of the past, especially when it comes to games. Let's be realistic, as much as we loved playing the likes of Warcraft II when they first crawled out of the evolutionary pond which spawned the RTS genre back in the mid '90s, we'd be hard pressed to find anything worthwhile in them now. For starters, graphics do count, and Warcraft Il's boast that it features Super VGA graphics at 640x480 is a bit like an aging Casanova bragging about having a 2in penis in a room full of 6ft Amazonians. Pointless.
So onto the game, and what a basic mix of cliches it is, especially in light of the recent release of its stunning, four-race-epic sequel. Orcs battle Humans over two campaigns in an attempt to gain control of the land of Azeroth (which I think is in Wales, but I'm not completely sure). The Al is basic and the graphics resemble greasy pizza stains on your monitor. Back in 1995,I was impressed. Now I'm just bored. My advice? Save your five quid, and use it towards buying the excellent Warcraft III instead, and to hell with the nostalgia.
In this sequel to Warcraft, the king is dead, Azeroth is destroyed, and the surviving humans are trying to build a new homeland on a different continent. The ores are breathing down their neck, though, in this adventure that reeks with the same blend of in-depth strategy, savage combat, and ribald humor that made the original a hit.
As in Warcraft, you can play as either the humans or the ores. The ores' allies include the likes of goblins and trolls, while the humans are joined in battle by elves, mages, dwarves, and others. The gameplay focuses on the standard collection of resources. construction of fortifications, and deadly combat, but enhancements give the action added realism. Look for more air and sea battles, a larger map, and more structures and weapons. And of course, all the savagery and mayhem is depicted in glowing Super VGA graphics. Let the carnage begin!
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