Warhammer 2: Dark Omen
Strategy titles frequently suffer in the transition from the PC to the PlayStation, and with the possible exception of Westwood's Red Alert, it's safe to say that very few have made any kind of impact. What we have here is the follow-up to Mindscape's moderately successful PC and PlayStation strategy game, Shadow of the Horned Rat, a game which demonstrated this particular concept perfectly adequately.
As with its predecessor, Dark Omen uses the imagery and mythology provided by the associated Games Workshop Warhammer series of table-top wargames--however, this time the gameplay engine has been made much more "PlayStation friendly."
At bare-bones level, this is a realtime, skirmish-based strategy game that makes use of a "proper" 3D terrain that can be rotated and examined from different angles while the battle continues--much like Bullfrog's Syndicate Wars. However, unlike many other titles in the genre, Dark Omen presents you with an undulating battlefield complete with ridges, hills and valleys to provide strategic advantages to hanging out in certain areas.
"Console friendliness" has been implement by limiting the confines of each battleground to relatively small areas. All missions within the campaign have single goals, and invariably involve brief skirmishes that lead into one huge punch-up right at the end. Due to the fact there is no resource management throughout (apart from picking which units to send into battle), all that you have to worry about is moving your troops in a sensible fashion and annihilating anything that gives you a funny look.
As far as this story line goes, it is pretty much the kind of thing you'd expect. Demons, magic, big men with even bigger swords, undead soldiers. If you can think of pretty much any fighting fantasy-style cliche... it's in here. The game casts you in the role of Commander Morgan Bernhardt, leader of the Grudgebringer (See what I mean? That's what his sword is called too.) mercenary army who has been hired to wipe out the increasing number of undead soldiers currently wreaking havoc throughout the country. Your army begins the campaign with four regiments of troops: infantry, cavalry, crossbows and artillery, but as the campaign progresses you get the chance to hire new regiments and buy reinforcements. While you do this the story unfolds through campsite conversations with your allies which are all presented using a polygon-based animation system more in keeping with the style of the game as opposed to CGI stuff. Listen for some spectacularly over-acted accents in these sections.
Fans of Games Workshop will no doubt get a kick out of this game no matter what...the atmosphere it generates is pretty much spot-on. The version we looked at for this preview still needed some 'tweaking' in the Al department, but on the whole it seems to be shaping up very nicely.
- MANUFACTURER - Electronic Arts
- THEME - Strategy
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2