Review by Chas
This game is all about wasted potential and annoying gameplay. Much of this stems from the fact that it's cross platform, so you get all the shallow gameplay that you would usually expect from a console game, along with poor controls and no save feature. I guess I'll start off with the good parts, though...
The graphics are nice, and do their job well. The lush area where you do your first missions really feels cozy, and looks like it was inspired by The Shire from Tolkien's books. The creatures all have interesting details, particularly your minions, who will pick up any weapons or armor lying around, giving them all an individual look. The game also performs well, and is completely smooth with all the settings maxed out, even on my rig that is well over a year old.
The sound also works well. Particularly the voices are well done, such as your minions humorous comments, which really add some personality to the game.
The story has a very interesting premise, and a well designed game world, but it's brought down by the fact that it would fit better in an RPG, rather than in an action game. In other words, it could have been great, but since you never really get to participate in the story, rarely get to make any choices, and basically just have a very superficial way of interacting with the NPCs, you really don't feel like you're involved in the world. The premise of playing as a bad guy also doesn't seem like it's very well thought through. Why? Well, first of all, you're running around like your average hero from any fantasy game, doing quests for regular people. You'd think if the main character was evil, he wouldn't care about that. Furthermore, most of the enemies you kill are also evil, which makes no sense. Why aren't you leading an evil army, while killing good guys, instead of doing quests for the good guys? Either way, you do have the choice of doing some evil deeds here and there, but overall you seem to have the choice of playing as a standard hero or a common thug, rather than someone truly evil.
The gameplay is where this game falls apart. You basically play as a big, bad guy who controls a bunch of minions with different skills. That part of the game is pretty fun, at least early on. However, it soon becomes incredibly hard to control all the minions, especially when you get several types. This is partly because of the poor control scheme, but also because of the poor targeting mechanisms, and the general chaos of dozens upon dozens of minions, fighting large amounts of enemies. Another problem is that the minions are designed to be expendable, as a sort of cannon fodder army. Playing like that, however, will weaken your army considerably. Of course, there's no shortage of minions to use, but since your minions will equip whatever they find on the ground, they become better with time, as they max out their equipment. This makes them more valuable, but also means losing them will make a huge dent in your army, as it takes a lot of time getting new equipment. The result of this is that if you make a mistake, and lose some of your better minions, you'll either be forced to spend a lot of time grinding to rearm your army, or you'll have to reload, and replay huge parts of the game, since there is no option to save, and the autosaves are usually far apart. I think I've spend more time replaying areas than I've spent advancing in the game, due to this absolutely idiotic gameplay mechanism. A simple save feature could have removed this annoying problem.
Another problem is the placement of spawn pits, where you can get your minions. Some areas don't have spawn pits, or only certain types, so you'll have to backtrack to a previous area to get new minions, and when you do this in an area you're replaying, you're in for an enormous amount of frustration.
Overall, this is a game with a lot of potential, ruined by the fact that it's designed for consoles. The poor control scheme and lack of a save game feature basically turns the game into an annoying chore, rather than a simple but enjoyable experience.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 07/17/07
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