Review by odino

"WARmies of CRAFTigo"

Black Hole Games' first game and it's a pretty good one. It looks slick, most of all those fancy FMV sequences, and then the overall presentation and it also plays really well. Given the fact that you will require at least a week to complete this on anything but the easy difficulty setting, it's also a pretty good deal.

Now I have to admit that if you read the magazine reviews like I have, you'd think this is boring, a pure rip-off of other RTS games especially Warcraft, and just plain old style. This is all true. Let's start from the beginning.

3 races and a average story make up for the plot. The 3 races 'closely' resemble those from Warcraft, with Beasts replacing the Orcs, Fallen being the exact same thing as the Undead and the Empire (i.e. Humans and Elves) are, not surprisingly, Warcraft's Humans and Elves. Now the thing with copying from other games is, that those other games aren't original either. You'd think Warcraft is original because it came out before Armies of Exigo, but trust me, it isn't original at all. The entertainment industry relies on recycling, old methods and Armies of Exigo is no different. The very very close resemblance to Warcraft 3 is just annoying, but if you can look past it then it's a good game that stands on its own feet.

Its solid gameplay that features unit experience, ranks, heroes, resource collecting and plenty of massacres will not let you down. Age of Wonders' style layered maps is also fun, so you can actually go through the tunnels and skirmish the opponent from the back. Or you can be one of those sneaky guys and just cast damaging spells through the surface, or the other round -> smack the units trying to walk the underground path. The game features a lot of missions, 36 to be exact. The downside of that amount is that many missions are indeed dull and repetitive. You get to do the same thing you just did, with the option to improve swords at the blacksmith. You often pray the next mission doesn't contain a base so you can explore with a bunch of units and actually get to do something else. I believe in total there are only half a dozen of those missions, so don't pray too much.

The music is pretty good, not sure what you expect from the soundtrack but the unit sounds are great and the FMV atmosphere is excellent.

Graphics are not as good as you can imagine. I find them better looking than Warcraft 3 but not as sharp as they could be. There is no need for the game to have a rotating camera but sometimes you wish it would. Well I've already mentioned the FMV sequences several times now, but they are superb, not as thrilling as some of the Warcraft 3 ones but I can see Black Hole Games really wants to show off. Hmm I've mentioned W3 twice in the last article. It makes me wonder if some of the staff left Blizzard to make a new company. It would be a good bet if I wouldn't think they work on World of Warcraft instead. Who knows, we've got a decent new game company and their next Warhammer game should also be promising.

One last thing I want to mention is the excellent control the game has. Super-groups is an awesome way to manage your army. You will use it all the time and when you play another game, you will miss this feature and always want to use it. Apart from that it has the same controls other RTS' have been using over the years.

That gets me to the next point. This game is very much old school. It has nothing new to offer to the genre but if you love this style than that's not really bad, is it? Sometimes I really wonder how cool it would be to have Warcraft 1 with the new gameplay, controls and maybe even graphic updates. Maybe modern gamers really want to have 3D graphics, rotate the camera all over the place and have it require 2GB RAM just to show the intro. So I would consider this one of the better RTS games, learning from other titles and combining them all into one chic package. Having said that, I kind of hope nobody comes along and makes another game like this, taking all the same features once again and re-packages it as Worms of Craftington, as there is only so much borrowing that can be done before it becomes ridiculous.

Armies of Exigo doesn't quite deserve a 9/10, and I would easily give it a 8.5 but with the no-fraction policy here it will have to be a good 8. The very predictable story and the "rip-off" effect probably cost it the 9. If you are into RTS games you should check it out nonetheless but I can see how the average gamer has other priorities to be played first. If you have been agreeing with me on most of these points above, I also suggest you take this game slowly and don't play too much. That way you don't get bored with the mission objectives and can get the most of out it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/24/06

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