Warlords Battlecry 3
Why? Why I ask you? Why has one of the longest-running and most respected strategy series-eses ever still not worked it out? Worked out what you ask? Well, take a look at these screenshots and you'll probably guess. No matter how good a game is, if it looks like a cowpat smeared on a monitor by a Turner Prize winner, it's never going to attract the plaudits it deserves. If you need evidence, just look at any of the recent turn-based Warlords games or their real-time Battlecry siblings. Sadly, Battlecry III is no exception, as it looks identical to its two predecessors.
Mud In Your Eye
Needless to say. looks aren't everything. But they are important, especially when you're forking out a years' savings on a new graphics card. Also, the frenetic nature of an RTS means it's essential to be able to see what's going on forget troop tactics and using the laughable formations - units mostly just bunch up into ugly and indistinguishable clumps of limbs and heads. And don't even get me started on the hideous menus and interface. But that's where my major criticisms end. Yup, from now on, I'm going to be all glowy and positive, because under Battlecry Ill's messy visuals and combat lies a great game.
Holding Out For A Hero
As with all Warlords games, the campaign - which isn't only large but freeform too - is packed with superb RPG elements and revolves around an upgradeable Hero unit. There are a whopping 28 classes and 16 varied races (five of which are new) to choose from, as well as a huge pool of abilities for your Hero to develop (depending on their race and class) and over 100 brilliantly imaginative spells to learn.
So, on to the freeform campaign, which tasks you with travelling around the mythical world of Etheria completing either plot-driven missions, fun bonus tasks (such as killing more enemies than your opponents in 30 minutes), or buying items and hiring mercenaries. And while the plot is pretty unspectacular - apparently narrated by a bored Stephen Hawking - the flexible nature of the campaign means you can dip in and out of it at your leisure.
So, despite its appearance, Battlecry III ain't half bad after all. In fact, had the combat been more involving and the whole thing not looked like a hatful of arseholes, it'd be knocking on the door of our PC A-List. Let's just hope Infinite Interactive learns its lesson next time - it certainly has the talent, it just doesn't yet have the engine to do this franchise justice.
Download Warlords Battlecry 3
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
And So the Warlords strategy bandwagon rolls on, its entourage of six titles - four turn-based, two RTS - about to be joined by game number seven and RTS number three - Warlords Battlecry III. But with the recently released Warlords IV proving that the turn-based series still has plenty of life left in it, can Battlecry III do the same for the Warlords RTS collection? Well, funny you should ask actually, as we just happen to have the latest preview dive in and find out what's on offer? Follow me...
First up, the graphics engine has been given a spring clean apparently - but to be honest, it's difficult to see what's changed since the last game. However, while the visuals may be akin to the doodlings of a two-fingered orang-utan, remember that the Warlords games have never been about looks. So let's move on to what really counts.
What struck us most about Battlecry III is the sheer amount of options, including 16 races to play as or against (there were 11 in Battlecry II). We tried out all of the five new races, of which two - Knights and Empire - proved similar to the Human race in the last version. However, the other three were far more imaginative.
The Ssrathi, a primitive but deadly lizard race was our favourite, with units including a T Rex, pterodactyl and triceratops. The Plaguelords, a nation of mysterious swamp creatures offered towering Hydras and electrocuting floating eyes, while the Swarm came equipped with an array of bees, giant ants, scorpions and crushingly powerful scorpion men.
As with all the Warlords games, your troops are led by a hero whose sphere of influence gives nearby units combat bonuses. j However, heroes can also y gain experience, level-up and specialise in a host of different skills. And of course, we mustn't forget to mention their incantation-packed spell books that can play a major role in swinging the outcome of a battle. Although they're yet to be added, we've also been promised 30 new spells (and three new spheres of magic), bringing the total to an impressive 130.
You can also look forward to an all-new hero development system, which we can happily say is far more intuitive than before. You'll have countless new attributes to develop too, while gaining levels is now quicker and easier. What's more, you'll be able to take your hero all the way up to level 50 and then use them and their ever-growing retinue in multiplayer games.
From what we've seen of it, there's a wealth of gameplay under the ugliness here - despite the dated visuals, it's looking like fans of the senes won't be disappointed. In fact, Battfecry III is just like that close, opposite-sexed, pizzafaced friend of yours. You'll want to spend loads of time with it, but you wouldn't want to shag it.