Review by prometheal_fire
"A glorious victory, or a crushing defeat?"
Warhammer: Battle March is a real-time strategy game based on the successful table-top game series. Players take control of one of three armies; the marauding hordes of Chaos, the belligerent Orcs & Goblins, or the human Empire, each with their own campaign, and an allied race. Anyway, on with the review.
Gameplay: As mentioned earlier, Battle March is a somewhat simplified RTS, focusing mainly on troop management, without the need to build bases or harvesting resources. The rules are a simplified (using the term loosely) version of the table-top game, which basically translates to a this kind of attack' is effective versus this kind of armor' system. For example, spearmen are especially effective against cavalry.
The game world itself is split into two sections: The world map, and the actual battles. Movement through the world map is done along a pre-determined path, with the odd optional quest. This is not a free-roaming world, merely a path to the next event, be it a town, some random person encounter (occasionally giving you free troops), or a fight. Gold is the only resource to worry about, as it is the means to hire more troops and replenish your existing ones.
The battles? Well, they are the meat 'n' potatoes of the game. Battles start with the deployment phase, in which time is frozen and it gives you the opportunity to see the lay of the land, and set your units up in relation to the terrain, enemies and objectives.
After the initial deployment stage, it' on! It's quite a sight, seeing anything up to a couple of hundred units slogging it at your command. In addition, Heroes can single out enemy heroes for a duel, which leads to them banging away on each other until one emerges victorious.
The one issue I have with this game, gameplay-wise, is to do with the controls. It's by no means a deal breaker, but it is fairly convoluted, as an example; to attach a Hero to a unit (so the unit gains the hero's bonuses), you have to hold RT, hold right on the d-pad, and press the B button, and then select the unit. I can understand that it would be extremely difficult to map the hundreds of commands possible on a keyboard and mouse to an Xbox 360 controller, and it is well done, and fairly intuitive once you're used to it, but it's something that may very well turn a lot of players off initially.
There's also multiplayer, (and offline skirmish against the CPU) in which you can play 3 different types; Siege (castle assaults ), Normal (build an army and play) and Reinforcing (capture bases). I particularly like the option of building a massive army from the ground up and the ability to play it online.
Story: There is indeed a story to this, but it's a fairly standard RTS storyline. It lacks a little . Alright, quite a bit. It's basically a reason for the next fight. Some missions just really feel out of place story-wise, whether they're fun or not. The only difference is that it features three different stories, one for each race, that intertwine at certain points. It's very cool to play a particular battle as one team, and then play through as the other side at another point.
Sound: The music is quite good, complimenting what's occurring quite well. Not too loud, as to interfere, not quiet enough to make you wonder if there IS any music. It's mainly orchestral, epic music Well, what did you expect? For the most part it is very well done. I had one sound glitch where the music kept looping, but that was a one-off. The sound effects are quite well done, swords ringing on steel, cannons sound like cannons, plenty of horns all done fairly well. The voice acting, on the other hand, is okay during the (in-game engine) cutscenes, but earth-shatteringly annoying in a battle. The unfortunate thing is, the unit comments actually serve a purpose, notifying you when either your unit or an enemy unit is completely destroyed but that doesn't stop them grating on your nerves after a while. The unit responses are also novel for the first two or so missions, but after that Ugh.
Graphics: The graphics are good. Not retina-meltingly beautiful, but more than passable. Personally, I think they're not as good as they could be considering the technical limits of the Xbox 360, (Note: that was in SD, not HD) but they truly get the job done. Landscapes seem merely to be places to do battle, with a few areas in particular being very barren and low quality. The troops, however, I think are fantastic when zoomed in, and look great when hundreds of guys are hammering and slashing away at each other. Even though each unit normally only has perhaps three different attack animations which are repeated over and over, you'll be either too busy,, or having to much fun, or both to even care. The cutscenes are done either using in game graphics, which are fine, and the gorgeous FMV sequences that look absolutely superb.
Lifespan: The play time and replayability really depends on how much you like the game, or how much trouble you have with the game. With three separate campaigns, all selectable from the beginning, you have a fair chunk of gaming goodness ahead of you Personally I clocked in at around 40 hours for all three campaigns, although I think that would probably be in the outer range for time. Take into consideration both offline and online multiplayer, and you have a game that will keep you occupied for a decent amount of time. Assuming of course you have the patience, because at times, it gets frustratingly hard.
Buy / Rent: Fans of the table-top game will probably appreciate this more than Mr. Joe Average, but there is still a sizeable game to be enjoyed by Warhammer fans and non-fans alike. It's most certainly not for everyone, but the people who persist with it will find a satisfying look into the Warhammer World. If the words Nurgle, Khorne, Grudgethrowers and Rock Lobbas don't mean anything to you, I'd suggest renting it. I being a old-school Warhammer fan bought it on release day, and I don't regret it all.
Overall score: 7/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/07/08
Game Release: Warhammer: Battle March (AU, 09/18/08)
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