Product Type: JoWood PC games
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Totally under the spell of Spellforce
Spellforce - The Order of Dawn (PC)
Member Name: pumfster
Spellforce - The Order of Dawn (PC)
Date: 06/02/11, updated on 31/10/11 (122 review reads)
Advantages: Original Idea. Gameplay is superb. Hasn't really dated at all - is still a cracking game.
Disadvantages: Some bugs, although patches should fix most of them.
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.
Summary: A superb cross-genre game well worth a punt at a fiver.
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