Review Spellforce 2: Demons of the Past
Genres, a convenient way to separate and sort out large collections of work, for the gaming industry there used to convey to the consumer what kind of entertainment is to be expected from a game. Whether you're running around shooting “stuff”, building armies, flying airplanes, or simply matching colored shapes. Experienced gamers have used genres to determine the likability of games.
For many game companies handcuffing your creative process to a single genre is unacceptable, and could lead to poor results. If a developer could improve a game by simply adding a few RPG elements to a shooter, or making combat in an adventure game feel more action oriented, then why not. Genre mixing is out there and touting some great successes, like the venerable Portal series, while others maybe not so famous(Cough*Typing of the Dead*).
Mind Over Matter Studios, the dev team behind Spellforce 2: Faith and Destiny has released another genre defying title, Spellforce 2: Demons of the Past. Can this be the game that introduces Roleplayer to Real Time Strategy, of vice versa, or will it fall by the wayside.
Once upon a time there was an evil evil guy, who only want to destroy everything. Something that bother me is the antagonist that wants total destruction of everything, no more life, no plants, no buildings, no cows, or McDonald’s. He just raises all the dead and mops the planet. What’s this guy gonna do if he wins, open up a retirement community for his now retired zombie army?
Enter Zazhut, leader of an army of evil demons, got locked away so long ago nobody know anything about him, how he got out, or how to put him back. And boy is he upset about something, must be that eons long cramp he’s had in his leg. So he gathers up the “Nameless”, cause coming up with names can be difficult sometimes, and begins purging Eo.
Fortunately a hero arises, that’s you, with nothing better to do than save the world… again. So what makes you so awesome, you’re a shaikan, not a regular human your ancestors made a pact with a dragon and now you are a great commander and warrior, convenient. You and your less than super friends set out on a campaign to save humanity.
Graphics and Sound
At first pass one might be quick to conclude that the modeling and textures of this game are somewhat antiquated for the time that it was released, I know I did. With rather interesting results I discovered what clicking my middle mouse button did, which was to switch my view from an overhead RTS camera, to an over the shoulder RPG camera. And what a difference that makes, not that it changed anything, just moved everything into a different perspective. This allowed me to enjoy the role playing moments more distinctly than before. While the game was still far from prettiest of the year, it seemed a little less grimy.
Sound works for what is required, sword clashing, spell casting, um menu interaction. The only off putting moments came when listening to the background music. In a time where music is tailored to the action of the characters, or situation on is found in, I’m surprised to find a game with a simple looped track. Amorphic music would be fine, but this music clearly had an upswing that reminded me of battle music. For the first few time I found myself looking around the map for attacking enemies to defend against, but to no avail, I was stuck wondering about trying to ignore the odd problem.
Real Time Strategy is about managing resources, building armies and overcoming enemy forces with superior strategy. Spellforce does this with all the flair and glitz of a fireworks show in the middle of the day. They have units, building, and resource gathering, all the hallmarks of a standard RTS, without any flash or pizzaz to help it stand out. Basic units from the beginning with tougher units on the higher tiers of development, and upgrades along the way. This portion of the games almost relies on the role playing elements to save it from mediocrity, leaving a feeling of being tacked on just to attract a different demographic of players.
When role playing the best success can be found in believing one controls the character in every aspect, not just where you go and what attack you use. The more choices the better, from dress to speech, everything is important, going as far as to create a backstory. The more a developer has to sacrifice to fit the game the harder sell to role players it’s going to be. This game makes some substantial sacrifices and holds few precious benefits. Character creation is a process that for a serious gamer can take hours to perfect, not here, here you get Name,Sex, and smattering of nearly identical faces. Dialog options, here are your options, shut up and listen to the adults talk or, or press spacebar to skip.
On the bright side, there are three skill trees, you get to populate with points gained on levels, to help you better effect your chosen game play style. Abilities are gain as you spend points in skill trees that help your character fight, though targeting can be tricky when surrounded by an army of fiends. And loot will occasionally drop for uncommon enemies that might be useful, and armor choices to alter the appearance of your avatar, restoring some semblance of player control.
Spellforce 2: Demons of the Past is a game a pedigree, being the fourth in series, and seventh Spellforce overall. Blending together two somewhat divergent genres into a franchise worthy of note. Those of you new to the series may be confused with the story suddenly dropped into your lap as if you’d played the last three games. Despite simple graphics and tragically ill tempoed music, but for players with an iron will, and too much time on your hands, may find themselves enjoying this game, for its varied gameplay. The game tries to cover two genres, and does so with mild success, producing a slightly better than average game. Will it make role players love RTS, RTS enthusiasts jump on role playing games, I don’t think so.