After seeing this title in my local PC game store a few years ago, I decided that this might well be the great new game I had been waiting for, having been rather disappointed by the quality of new releases (and still am over the last couple of years). Well I think that the answer to that is a resounding YES.
Firstly the game cost me £24.99, which wasn't too bad for a new game on the market. It is now available for around the £5, which is a complete bargain in my opinion. It is available from all good PC game stores as well as the usual places on the Internet. The specifications for this game were quite high for a few years ago, but this should run well on any reasonably modern PC, and the minimum specs are a 1GHz processor, with 256MB RAM, a 3D graphics card compatible with GeForce2 and 2 GB free hard drive space. However for optimum performance a 1.8GHz processor, 512MB RAM, and a 3D graphics card compatible with GeForce 4 or better. Installation is a straightforward process. The game comes on 2 CD ROMs, and so you start off by inserting the first disk and following the onscreen instructions and in no time you will be ready to play.
Once the game is loaded for the first time you will have to input the serial number, which is on the box or instruction manual. This is the only time that you will be required to input this.
The first time that you play the game you have to run through the tutorial level, which I thought was a tad annoying at first, however the game is so involved and difficult to master that the experience gained here is vital. It is the only time you will have to do this level, as it can be skipped after this.
The story behind the game is a relatively complex one. To sum it up, a group of magicians became obsessed with greed and power, and as is the usual outcome, a war broke out destroying many races and the world was blown apart, and magic portals separated the only surviving parts of the world. One of the magicians survived however, and began the process of restoring the devastated planet along with his followers. This is where we pick up the action.
The main plus point as far as I am concerned with this game is that it is cross genre. By this I mean that it is basically a role-playing game, however elements of base building as well as real time strategy are also included. Unlike other games that have tried the cross genre format, the different genres fit together effortlessly; with no dramatic pause or great change in game play required for the transitions.
Now once you are ready to start the game, the first task is creating your character. The choice is a pre-defined one, or a custom created one. The choices are to change the sex, appearance, name, and statistics of the character. You have to choose 2 special abilities and have 30 points to distribute to the personality attributes. These include strength, stamina, dexterity, charisma and wisdom to name but a few. Once this is done you can start into the game itself. You will get further chances to increase the specialisation of your character as you gain experience from completing quests and killing enemies.
The storyline of this game is absolutely gripping, which for me is the main thing with a game like this. I do not want to give any of it away here so I won't describe how the game starts, but will give an overview of the game play and the ideas of the game. To be honest the storyline is probably the best that I have ever come across in a game, and it still hasn't been bettered to this day.
You start alone where your character was summoned. You are a rune warrior; a former slave of previous wizarding wars who has been set free to control their own destiny. You have power over the rune, which means that you may take control of monuments and summon various races to help you, depending on the monument and which runes you possess. There are 6 races you can use, and they are human, elves, dwarves, dark elves, trolls and orcs. Each race has its own characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, units and buildings, which will need to be mastered as the game progresses. In addition, your character gains experience for completing quests and killing enemies. This experience is used to further increase the skills you chose at the start and gives you added abilities. The higher your experience level, the more heroes you can summon. These are warriors like you, powerful with different abilities. You start of only being able to summon 1, but this will increase to 5 as the game progresses, and you will have a wider choice of heroes.
Your character interacts with other characters in the game which display either ! for quest purposes or ? for sub-quests or other reasons. Various sub-quests can be picked up, but the order in which you complete these is totally up to you.
If you gain control of a monument then you have the options of building a base and an army. This is similar to many other titles in the real time strategy camp and include gathering resources, in this case wood, iron, stone, moon silver, aria, lenya and food. Different races require different resources in varying amounts but this will become obvious as you play the game.
As you have probably guessed I liked this game a great deal, however it is not without certain bugs and flaws. These include firstly, several misprints and typing errors in the manual, which begs the question if they bothered to run a spell checker on it at all. To me this just gives the impression of a rushed job on the manual. Secondly, the text in the game at certain points becomes German. Whilst the spoken word is still in English it does get quite confusing. Now I will stress that this is only on rare occasions, and that the company is releasing patches quite regularly to correct these problems. It still comes across as a little amateurish, as this sort of thing would be easy to spot with just basic testing before release.
One further little warning here. The learning curve on the game is very steep, with very very hard quests coming quite soon into the game, and although I see this as a challenge, some people may be put off so I thought that I should point it out.
Graphics on the game are absolutely superb. You can zoom in close or use a bird's eye view directly overhead. The decision is yours. The 3D landscapes and cut scenes are beautifully put together and aid the telling of the wonderful storyline. They have managed that balance between detailed backgrounds yet still having a big enough view of the action, which many games has faltered on lately.
Same again with sounds. The battle noises are realistic and the music is OK although all games' music gets on my nerves after a while :)
Finally I would point out that the company has a great website dedicated to the game at http://spellforce.jowood.com with further information on the game, as well as updates, patches and a great forum for help and any other questions regarding the game.
I would recommend this game to anyone, as it is an original idea, very addictive and playable with a fantastic plot and I thank you all for reading. This review also features on Ciao under my same username.
With Spellforce JoWood tries to create an all in one, rpg and strategy game. it includes some elements of RPG games, but it is mostly a strategy based game, you control an avatar and create armies that fight at your side. The storyline is interesting and captivating, there are a few things i dislike about the interface, particularly the way you have to cast the spells and use the abilities of your avatar, but it is in general a great game for individual play. This game delivers many hours of fun with its campaign, there is plenty of equipment for your character, and you get to control many different races to create your army. Plus you can have up to 5 different heroes at your side. You also have the option of playing in multiplayer cooperative or player vs player mode, but this is not the strong point of this game,
Call me a nerd if you want but after Ive dried my eyes with my anorak sleeve Ill tell you that I get a lot of pleasure out of these Dungeons and Dragons style RPG games. Ive played an embarrassingly large number of these games and Spellforce Order of the Dawn is undoubtedly one of the best, with some reservations that I will go into later. It has recently become available on the discount racks.
I primarily search for games that will take me over and will last for at least a month of quite regular use. I also tend to wait till games hit the £5 discount racks. This game comes up trumps in both departments. It is vast in content, certainly the biggest RPG Ive played outside of the Japanese style RPGs such as the Fantasy series. Actually it isnt a strict RPG, rather a fusion of Real Time War Strategy (RTS) and an RPG (Role Playing Game for non-nerds) which is in fact becoming a bit of a trend.
Info For People With a Life
RTS- These are basically War Games in which the shooting and destruction can only be carried out once the player has constructed his army and weapons. To do this one usually has to gather raw materials, build factories and towns and navigate a given map. The skill and the gameplay are in the administration, placement and delegation of resources. In many ways its maths with pretty pictures.
RPG- These are games in which one chooses a character or characters with which one embarks on a quest through a succession of maps. The character will encounter various Tolkienesque creatures on the way and the way he/she interacts or, more usually, fights with them develops the character according to given traits such as Strength, Intelligence, Magic Ability etc. After each battle one is awarded points which you distribute among these traits so developing your own unique character. There are usually side quests and puzzles to confuse the issue along the way. They are mostly based on The Hobbit.
So this game is a mixture of these two genres. Basically your character travels through a succession of islands on a mythical world and has to conquer each one by developing towns and armies. There is a plotline to this, there always is, but anyone who is interested in it really should get out more. It is usually laughably weak and this game is no exception. Its the gameplay itself which is the fun. One of the unique features of this game is that the hero can, eventually, call on six different races of creatures with which to create an army. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Trolls and Dark Elves. Each army has its own special requirements and abilities which makes the whole thing that little bit more interesting. In some scenarios one can choose between two races, and can call upon the advantages of both. The game interface is an excellent point and click menu driven affair and the graphics are really quite special. Camera view can be change from plan to 3rd person easily which is spectacular in battle scenes. Use of the initial tutorial level is strongly recommended.
It is an impressive piece of gaming software which the programmers put a lot of work into. However there are a few problems:
Installation; The verification code on the inside of the case for the discount version is a big problem. They used an ambiguous font in which the 0 and O, I and 1 are exactly the same. If you have more than one of these in the code youve got problems.
Starting the game and moving from one map to another takes ages indicating the complexity of the program. Its best to have more RAM than is recommended. It is also apt to crash from time to time especially when theres a lot of activity on the screen.
There are some bugs in the game. To get from one island to another one must open gates to portals. On some islands the gates dont open even though you have fulfilled the game requirements. Gaming notice boards are full of comments on this.
It is not an easy game. The first two levels could quite easily destroy the enthusiasm of a RPG/RTS beginner. A point to remember is that you will always come back from death and any damage done to the enemy before that will remain done.
The voices of the characters are bloody ridiculous. From time to time there are unavoidable video segments. All the voices are American. The Elves all sound like LA bimbos and the Humans and Orcs Italians from the Bronx. It has had me in stitches on many occasions. I suppose a lot of wannabee actors were employed from Beverly Hills Starbucks and McDonalds.
So a game of two halves in many ways. Well worth the money for its playability and complexity. However, there are a few glitches.
I personally loved Spellforce The Order of Dawn.
Its not an easy game though as its full of strategy but if you like role playing where you can also construct, plan and command your army this is excellent.
There are atleast 120 hours gaming time - it took me way longer.
In the run up to the game in the world of Spellforce, a circle of 13 magicians tried to bring peace to their world. They wanted to bring together all the ancient forces under the control of one of the magicians. 500 hundred years would pass before a dark roamer would come to give to one circle mage the possibility of the ritual with which to combine these forces together and thus giving him the power.
But a few years before this ritual took place (the Convocation), the circle mages became greedy for power. The circle was broken and the peace was no more. A devastating war broke out.
Then the dark roamer, and with him the time for the Convocation arrived. Through the struggle of each of the mages trying individually to gain the power, the world was ripped apart.
Now only fragments of continents remain, islands connected by magical portals. Rohen, one of the circle mages, wants to try to put his world back together and so he calls on the power of the rune.
You are a Rune Warrior in the game. Unfortunately theres not much choice in what kind of character you can play. The story line is the usual go-after-the-mean-magician but the thing that makes this game different is that you have to build your own armies. As you progress you either find or are given runes to use in the ruin monuments which you can use to call armies (elf, dark elf, human, troll, orc or dwarf depending on what runes you find) and other warriors.
The game controls are easy to pick up and are pretty straight forward. The tutorial at the start of the game is good and concise, teaches you everything you need to know.
Great is the fact that if you get killed you immediately get reincarnated at the nearest runestone in doing so you also lose some experience points.
Each island is harder than the last and sometimes seem impossible, but theyre all doable. The objective is to get through to portals but there are always problems and obstacles on the island to solve with sub-quests to do if you want to (good for gaining gold and experience). Playing it the second time I got an awful lot out of it as my strategy was completely different.
Obviously the higher your level, the easier it is to get rid of all the baddies. A great tip is to make full us of the spawning pools. Sounds gross doesn't it? Well when you're happy that you've killed off a few monsters, watch out because most of them will be respawned at their base camp. You have to destroy the buildings to end the process. But if you & your heroes can handle it, plant them beside a spawning pool for an hour or 2 & your level, consequently, will go up. I've known some people leave them there overnight!
The graphics are good, the music is beautiful.
The end is fine but nothing special, in fact its a lead onto The Breath of Winter.
I have the gold edition which also gives you The Breath of Winter which Im still playing.
As I said, I loved this game and would play it again. It is a strategy game though and requires perseverance and patience, if you like challenge this could be for you.