Warhammer rites of war are a turn based hex game from the specialists in this category, SSI. It is based on the famous Warhammer 40,000 series of tabletop games by Gamesworkshop and it somewhat brings it spirit to the pc. Has in the tabletop game, this setting is an interesting and different sci-fi world that mixes some fantasy elements and the result is very good and enjoyable. In rites of war campaign you control the Eldar, an advanced and strange alien race, and help them to recover their lost worlds form the hands of Humans and the usual biological aliens. A short briefing giving to you by an elder and them the troop purchase screen precedes each mission. In this screen you can also buy some kind of battle magic and both new magic and units will become available has you go through the campaign. Each mission is very well designed and you will need to repeat them a lot and have perfect control of all your units? special abilities. That might be hard, since the number of units is staggering and there are a lot of different special abilities. Good thing that the stats are easy to understand and easily reachable while you are in combat. During combat, has you fight, your troops gain experience and when they conquer some special sites they gain money that you can use at the end of the mission to buy more troops/spells. Besides the campaign there is a free mode available where the computer generate a random map and you select the money each player has available, number of troops and them buy your forces from the huge amount that are available in the game. Included in the game comes a huge encyclopaedia with the status and a huge description of every unit that appears in the game. Lovers of this game will love this feature and even the owners of the tabletop rulebooks will find this very useful. Gameplay Very easy to play and an
interface easy to understand. Movements and attacks are just one or two clicks away, has the status and special abilities of your troops. Essential info is always available in the main battle screen (if you select the options) and the attack previsions are also very useful. Also you don?t have to guess to where your troops can move, the hexes available are all highlighted when you select a unit that can move. Graphics The models are great, very colourful, and while they aren?t very big, you can easily see the difference between them. Your will be marvelled to the extent of detail that the graphical artists put on them. The terrain, while not nearly has good has the units, is also very well made and it really serves the purpose of giving a place to units to walk on but without taking the attention away from them. Sound Sound FX, while not outstanding, and do a great a job giving life to your units. Each has a very distinct attack and move sound, like the infantry marching and the ships hovering. Music is also amazing, very classical and epic, but it is very repetitive and this can sometimes be annoying (like when you are reading the encyclopaedia). Replayability After seeing and mastering all the units in the game, there will be little reason for you to come back to this game, unless you stay addicted. But with huge amount of units available this will take a while and I promise you will want to try them all. The campaign story is also interesting and somewhat hard, so you will also repeat it a lot. Manual Has usual from SSI, the game manual is superb with all info about status, special abilities, game interface and even tips available in it. All turn based wargames fans will love this game, unless this particular mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy turns you off (btw, t
he orcs that are part of the Warhammer 40,000 were left out of this game). Minimum Requirements: Pentium-200 or equivalent 64 MB RAM 2X CD-ROM 2 MB VRAM 200 MB
As a boy I became fascinated with the little die cast models that were shelved at the local Games Workshop branch. All my pocket money and time would be funnelled into building my Imperial Guard army, which actually consisted of about ten pitifully painted models, not much to terrify those armies my richer peers paraded. Now that I'm about to reach my twenties, those days are long gone but with the advancements in technology since I was eleven Games workshop have expanded into the computer game industry. And so I got 'Eldar: Rites of War' from my younger brother, who has just snapped out of the Warhammer phase. Of course I lapped up the chance to again play with all those armies and characters that I once knew, probably in some futile chance that I may not lose my childhood (Sad I know). The computer game supplied me this chance with little cost as well as avoiding the hours of painting that usually ended in disaster. Basically, 'Rites of War' is the first Games Workshop game to feature a different race from the Space Marines, namely the Eldar. The discovery of one of their homeworlds that they were expelled from over a millennia ago, they decide to launch an invasion force to battle both the Imperium and the evil Tyrannids to regain their former world and the artefacts left there. The game is relatively simplistic compared to its tabletop cousin. All the complicated Melee, Movement and Defence actions automatically worked out by the computer, rather than rolling the dice and employing complicated equations that was always the reason I never took the game that seriously when I was young. The player has first organise his army by spending 'Glory', earned by winning levels, on different units that also become available as the levels progress. Of course the units are based on the Warhammer 40,000 Eldar factions but for those who don't know much of Games Workshop, they are also defined by their role, e.g. devastator squ
adrons and Assault squadrons to name a few. Each unit has a description of what it can be used for as well as its stats which consist of a defence score and hand to hand score to name a few. These stats determine how much damage it can both do and sustain how far it can move and how much damage it can take before the unit breaks. The units can also have Psyker powers, which can be explained as either attack or defence 'magic', and also special features such as Armour Piercing weapons or Warping capabilities. Both are explained fully as to what their effects are in the army management screen Once a good balanced army has been chosen to suit the objectives of the level, you may also choose a Strategy, or Wargear as it is known in Games Workshop game. This are basically one use items that inflict damage on the opponent, for example the Virus Bomb plants a virus in a mechanised unit, damaging it. These strategies are also bought using 'glory' and can turn a otherwise hopeless battle around. This army management definitely adds the 3rd dimension to the game, and gives you the feeling that you really are in total control of how the game pans out. It also means that you can play the game again and try different army combinations out, so no two games have to be the same. Also by awarding more powerful units after each level is completed, it gives a sense that as the levels get harder your army also gets a lot better. This is also reflected in units being able to gain experience points, more on this later. Generally this army management is the best part of the game, and the part I find most appealing. Of course the main action is done in the levels. In total there are 24 levels, where the first 8 you fight against the Imperium and Space marines, and the last 16 you battle the infestation of Tyrannids. Each level consists of a map split into many hexes that correspond as movement squares. The level starts with the deploy
ment of your army in the area denoted. Once this has been done the game pans out like many other strategy war games involving hexes. The movement of your army, engagement in combat and formation of your army is your choice. The computer works out how the combat fares automatically taking into account the statistics and special abilities of your units and the terrain where the combat takes place. A great feature of the game, is that the computer tells you the amount of injuries your going to inflict and take before you engage in the combat. The levels aren't that straightforward, as on some of the levels a special condition has been imposed. These can include an assassination level where you must kill a certain unit to win or a siege level where you must take and hold a certain building, to name but a few. Also when taking a building you have a chance of gaining extra glory, experience or gaining a special item that your units can use. The special items usually increase the stats of a certain unit, and can make certain units very powerful indeed. As mentioned earlier combat and taking buildings can earn your units experience. This experience can then develop your unit and increase certain stats making them more powerful. Even more useful is that certain units at certain experience levels can then become Exarch warriors. The Exarchs are the Eldar masters in combat and can also be trained in extra skills. Therefore, these warriors are very powerful indeed and when obtained can make a powerful army. The development of your army is probably my favourite part of the game and definitely makes it feel like your in charge of how the game pans out, instead of a route one game with no deviation. Also the different level conditions makes the games more interesting, as strategies have to change along with the army you take into the field. They game doesn't just offer a one-dimensional 'destroy' everything gameplay, and this makes the game not
only enjoyable but very addictive. The game is also not that easy to win and, therefore, shouldn't be seen as a pushover. You need to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each unit and employ them in battle to the best use. This makes the gameplay last longer than you might expect, and what may seem a simple level to start with can turn into a full rout for your army- so watch out. The other great thing about this game is there are other options besides the main campaign mode. As would expect there is a multi-player mode for both Internet and LAN play in which you may fight as any of the three races. There is also a level creator for all those who love to make their own scenarios and make friends sweat it out playing them. Apart from these two standard options, there is also an encyclopaedia of all the units used in the game- Eldar, Imperium and Tyrannid. This offers narrative on all the units as well as their stats and special abilities as can be seen in the army management screen. The other good feature of the game is some of the Video cut scenes- which offer some good spectacle in between certain levels. This game may not be seen on the top of any wish lists but definitely should be one to look out for if you need a few hours relaxation. The gameplay is both fresh and fun, and the graphics are excellent for what they are supposed to portray, the army management also adds that extra angle of participation that can keep you hooked for hours. If there is anything wrong with the game it would be the soundtrack, as the background music can put you off every time it blares out the speakers but this can be easily remedied by switching it off in the options screen. Other than that an extremely enjoyable game.