Review by Nizzidramaniiyt
"Civilization V in a fantasy setting"
"Warlock: Master of the Arcane" is a strategy game modeled after the immensely successful Civilization V. You can notice by the look of the game as it looks exactly the same with its hexagonal structure and city interface. The goal is to build your civilization from scratch and overcome the opponent by eclipsing them in army power or researching technology. In Warlock, technology is replaced by spells your wizard can cast, ranging from direct damage spells (fireballs etc), buff spells (levitation, vampirism, etc) to environmental transmutation (raise terrain, make lands fertile, create volcanoes, etc). The spells are diverse and fun to cast, which sometimes makes for exiting games. Victory conditions include domination (conquest), research (cast the last 'unity' spell), defeating some 'titan'-like unit or controlling 50% of the special 'holy site'-tiles.
Units have their standard attack power and hit points. There are five kinds of damage that they can deal to other units, governed by five types or resistance against those attacks which can be altered through spells and perks, which you can get by special buildings you can only build on resources. So resources are not a tradable commodity like in Civ V, but solely strategic in the sense that they might give access to mercenary units or 'masterwork armor' for example, that buff your units. Building can only happen once your population extends by one through city growth, which is achieved by accumulating citizens through the gathering of food on farms that you build. Aside from food, there is the usual gold that purchases units or special artifacts from traveling merchants to equip on your 'hero' units. These hero units come after a random set of turns and can be really powerful, but cost a lot of resources and upkeep. They might however win you the game if used strategically.
Where else is this game different from Civ V? The most freshening aspect is the exploration of other worlds that can only be accessed through one sole portal on the map. These extra worlds contain tons of neutral critters that you need to defeat in order to access and build on the rich lands full of resources and artifacts. The units of these worlds are quite powerful, so don't attempt until you get access to super-buffed units or 'heroes' with equipment.
I'm giving the game a 7 as it's really enjoyable due to the presence of equipment, loot and special units (it feels quite like Age of Wonders), but there's obviously a few flaws:
- The AI is pretty passive, even on the normal setting, and I've heard that hard isn't that 'hard' either. Sometimes they declare war on you, only to surrender by giving you resources after never even showing up at your doorstep.
- Presentation of the game is really bad. Normally I'm not really someone that enjoys the esthetics of a game: gameplay is what it's all about, right? Well, SOME options might be nice. Unlike Civ V, Warlock doesn't even give you insight in the tech trees, the overview of units available, and it's manual only provides the most basic info. Strategy vets will know how the bell rings after one or two plays, but newer players will be turned off by the game's lack of help. The 'tutorial' is also very basic.
- The game sometimes crashes (even close to 12/'12), though these crashes are relatively rare.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, though there are some nice special effects. Then again, this is all about the gameplay. That said, the game still offers plenty of enjoyment for those that like to play strategy games. I wouldn't go so far as to call this a 4C-title as it's a little too simplistic for that, but it does a nice job of replicating Civ V's gameplay into a fantasy atmosphere. If you like Civ and fantasy, this one is a no-brainer as it's relatively cheap. Don't expect to be blown off your feet, but there's a fair chance you'll enjoy this strategy game due to the addition of spells. A fresh take on the Civ success formula.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/27/12
Game Release: Warlock: Master of the Arcane (US, 05/08/12)
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