The game looks reasonable from the advertising and the box, but after three months I still can't play it! I tried it on a high end laptop, and it wouldn't run at all - but the customer service people said there would be an update. So I waited. The update comes out and I immediately install it - doesn't solve the problem. Now customer service says it must be my graphics card. So I remove the program and re-install it on my desktop, and install a new graphics card guaranteed to work. Same problem. Now customer service simply says they can't explain it - as if that helps me at all. What is far worse - when they released DemonStone last year it was just as shoddy. Didn't work on my computer, no help from customer service, long waits for patches that don't fix anything. They just don't seem to care about quality, so long as the advertising gets the sale it doesn't seem to matter to them if it works or not!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
108 of 113 people found the following review helpful
Real-Time Strategy with a twist...Sept. 24 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
The goal of the developers was to make a RTS with RPG elements and they definately accomplished it.
When the game begins you can start out with either the Order of the Flame (Basically the human/elves/dwarves) or the Lizardfolk. Each race has a hefty amount of units to choose from beyond the standard warrior/rogue/healer archtypes. You have about ten types of Captains, four heroes and one Juggernaut character to use. Each has their own special abilities in standing with the Dungeon and Dragon's universe. For example, Clerics will get cure light wounds/hold/ressurection type abilities. Addtionally, there is a skirmish mode where you can launch and play up to seven other teams on a map as well as multiplayer.
The tutorial on how to play the game was pretty good although the Narrator voice tended to draw his words out and made the tutorial very slow and a lot of stuff in there you really didn't need (I think all gamers can see the glaring difference between what a green checkmark and a red X signifies)
For building construction, you have a preset number of building squares. For example, in a main Nexus base you have a total of 16 squares on which to build with your structures. So depending on what structures you place will relate to the capabilities of your army. Each unit has a primary attack element and resistances. This is a major factor in the game because if your unit uses a primary attack of lightning and the unit it is attacking is 95 percent resistant to lightning it's not going to do hardly any damage so there is some skill and thought involved. There are other elements to the strategy of fighting as well, but that is the key element in the battles you will fight.
Personally, I didn't like the RTS elements of the game so much as I did the RPG elements of Dragonshard. I liked taking my little guys down in the Underground and doing the little quests and exploring. However, they blend fairly well together. Your units will go down to explore and quest and pop back up outside to build your bases and collect resources. Now, everything happens in real-time but the RPG underground elements are paced out so you won't be in the predicament of disarming traps, etc. For example, one of the missions has you against the Lizard folk but they aren't attacking and holding a river pass while building their troops up so you can explore the underdark without having to defend against his armies. I was skeptical buying the game on how they would pull it off, but they developed it quite nicely creating a really fun expierience.
Speaking of resources there are three types. EXP which is gained from monsters or scrolls, Gold and Dragonshards. EXP and gold are practical in that you get both from killing monsters and questing underground. The dragonshards are kind of a pain. They are scattered across the above-ground map and respawn when the world gets dark and they fall from the sky and make little craters where you have to send a unit to go pick the stuff up. Gold and Dragonshards are the two resources required to build anything and exp is just used to upgrade your units.
The bad part is that you cannot set a unit to auto pick-up dragonshards all over the map so if you are running low you need to take one of your guys and go click around on the shard droppings. It's not TOO bad mainly because you don't need a ludicrous amount of shards and gold to keep armies in the field and if you play well you shouldn't have too many "wipes" with your units until the later missions.
In later missions your armies will become quite large and give little system burps mainly due to the massive amount of units on the field. Each captain you build can also have soldiers attached to them depending on the level, so you can have upwards to 60+ individual little fellas on your side alone on the screen. It's difficult in later stages when you have sooo many units on the screen it can become overwhelming to manage them all. You can assign hotkeys to specific groups but it's still a little overwhelming. If you are a pro at Warcraft/Starcraft type games then you should have zero problem with the RTS elements of Dragonshard, however.
As far as bugs I've only had a few so far and that was a glich with Save/Loading which only happened once and a few minor crashes. There is an auto-update button upon launch which makes getting patches pretty easy.
Multiplayer. I have not tried the multiplayer out yet, but I can see it being a good expierience mainly because the unit types are varied and unit balance is excellent where no one unit except for the Juggernauts and Heroes are the end all and be all. Even the Heroes and Juggernauts are balanced because you can only have one on the map and they take a lot to build. Unsupported they will fall quickly to a group of regular captains.
Summary of Pros and Cons:
Pros - Resistances add a lot of strategy to unit mix in armies - Graphics were well done. - Sound was good and voice characterization - Excellent unit balance - Replayability and length of game will give you a lot of game time for your money. - SUPERB storyline.
Cons - Tutorial too dummified and long. - Dragonshard collection is not very user-friendly. - Large battles turn into a massive slugfest and will probably lag out low-end computers. - Few bugs.
Overall I enjoyed the game. The developers succeeded in creating exactly what they said - RTS with RPG flare.
62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
An attempt that simply missed the markSept. 30 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
Touted as the "First D&D Real-Time Strategy Game", Dragonshard certainly brings some new fare to a genre that can often seem rote.
The "D&D" aspect of this game should be addressed before delving further. Based in the new D&D campaign world of Eberron, the graphics, storyline and overall feel of the game certainly captures the unique flavor of the campaign setting and gives a sense of the depth found in it.
Unfortunately, that is by and large where the "D&D" in the title ends. The game mechanics are not at all representative of Dungeons and Dragons and the reality is that it is D&D in name and flavor only. What little of D&D it parodies, outside of setting, it doesn't follow very closely and I suspect that most D&D fans who were hoping for something true to the game system itself will find themselves sorely disappointed on this count.
If you took away the Eberron setting I might half-jokingly suggest that it would border on the criminal to continue to call it a D&D game at all. Certainly those players familiar with D&D but not with Eberron will find this anything but a D&D title.
If you can get past that in the hope of finding a fun game underneath, and are willing to engage the necessity of learning an RTS in which knowledge of the D&D game system will fail to help you with in the least, you may find yourself both entertained and perhaps a bit addicted.
Graphically the game is well done and holds much in comparison to Warcraft III, but is more refined and detailed. The environments and units offer a lot in the way of eye-candy and the voice and sound that accompanies it are all very well done and convincing. In particular I found the Lizardfolk to be exceptional in this respect.
Beyond mere appearance, the actual game play is engaging and offers a plethora of strategy along the way. It doesn't really come into its own until you have become quite familiar with the varied troop types for each of the "civilizations" in the game. This is made more difficult due to the mechanics of the game as well as a lack of consistency between the traits of one unit to those in another civilization. Allow me to speak toward that a bit more in a moment.
As with most RTS games, a scissor-rock-paper model exists that require a player to form armies capable of countering the enemy while avoiding being countered at the same time. In Dragonshard the main means of holding to this model is through "resistances", of which four types can be found; magic, poison, fire and physical. Virtually all units in the game are resistant to three types of damage and are weak to one.
Some special units, such as Champions for which a player can generally only have one active at any time, do what is called "fierce" damage, essentially ignoring any resistances of their target.
This, by and large, works well enough though it requires a bit of memorization to be effective and is not entirely consistent from one civilization to the next. For example, Lizardfolk warriors deal melee damage and are weak to magic, their equivalent in the "Order", the dwarf barbarian, deals melee damage and is weak to melee damage, and yet the final variety of warrior, the Umbragen Wraith Knight, deals magic damage and is susceptible to fire.
With ten unit types available to each side, not including champions and juggernauts, this disparity between comparable unit damage types and resistances can cause a fair bit of mental juggling, particularly as you try to get accustomed to the rest of the game.
Along with these considerations, many if not most of the units have several special powers which become available as they increase in level. These powers range from healing and buff spells to direct and area of effect attacks, all par for the course. However, their use is frequently hampered by user interface issues that can leave you fumbling about the keyboard as a frantic battle ensues, all in the hopes of trying to utilize these unit powers to best effect against enemy units you have hopefully memorized the weaknesses of in the process.
If that sounds like it might be a bit tedious or difficult, you would be right. At least before you've become accustomed to these requirements of the game it can leave a person a little confounded.
Naturally, the best way to overcome this and gain familiarity with both the mechanics and user interface is to simply play the game a lot! Fortunately, even when lacking as a player the game hints at a gem underneath drawing you in further and further, and imbuing some familiarity along the way.
Perhaps this is because, for all the similarities with other RTS titles, Dragonshard breaks the mold a bit by combining attributes from the best of them while introducing a new layer that I don't think has yet found its way into the genre--dungeon adventuring.
On the surface world, the area where you engage army against army, defend your city and outposts, and generally manage the strategic aspects of the game, periodic rains of "dragonshard" fall from the sky providing a necessary resource to send your troops out to collect.
However, below the surface exist damp and dark evils into which you must send the captains of your above ground armies seeking out treasure and gold, the second primary resource needed to build and create your forces.
This below ground adventuring helps add a lot of interesting depth to the game, in both single and multiplayer games. It also, inevitably, divides your attention between the gathering of dragonshard above and gold below, even as your troops engage enemy civilizations and creeping monsters on both, earning experience to level up all the while.
This division of attention, of forming both armies and adventure groups to obtain resources and defend or attack with, adds a dimension of strategy to the genre that simply can't be found elsewhere. Kohan comes, perhaps, closest to the same offering and its influence in this game can readily be recognized in many aspects.
Truly, as you play it's likely you'll find hints of other games abounding. The above ground realm and the variety of troops immediately conjures up moments from Warcraft, Majesty and Kohan, while the below ground spelunking is reminiscent of Baulder's Gate/Icewind Dale and to an extent the more recent Dungeon Seige 2.
Amazingly they have incorporated the more unique features of many games, both inside and out of the RTS realm, in a largely seamless fashion resulting in a game of a different sort than you might otherwise expect.
Most importantly, despite its failure to live up to the D&D name (in terms of game play itself), it rapidly grows on a person with its fun and multi-layered demands for strategy and foresight.
Detracting from this fun game play stands only two fairly brief campaigns and a wholly lacking online multiplayer community, at least so far. It also begs the question as to why only two campaigns exist when there are three civilizations featured in the game.
The longevity of this game, in terms of replayability and any notable online community are at best questionable. Certainly the online aspect of this game is absent so far and there doesn't seem to be any indication this will change soon, perhaps condemning most players to the short single player campaigns before hanging the game on a shelf to be forgotten.
In the end, while I really do find the game enjoyable, I have difficulty recommending it while it teeters at the $50 range. It has a lot of potential left unfulfilled even as it introduces some aspects which hopefully won't be ignored by the next generation of RTS games. It certainly could be worse and can't be coined a total failure, by any stretch of the imagination.
Yet with only a moderate level of replayability, deficient online play and an almost complete failure to offer what was advertised outside of setting alone--a D&D RTS--I can only feel it appropriate to recommend waiting for this to hit the bargain bin before spending your hard earned dollars.
* Engaging and fun game play
* Pleasing graphics and sound/music
* Mold breaking strategic design, with above and below ground adventure
* For those inclined, the Eberron campaign setting
* Not really a D&D title, as per game mechanics
* User Interface design is lacking in some key parts
* Two short campaigns
* Virtually no online gaming available at the moment
* Undocumented (and perhaps broken) game editor
* Moderate to steep learning curve
* Some notable bugs reported for some even after a first patch
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Fun For Masochists!April 10 2006
E. M. Hodge
- Published on Amazon.com
I waited a long time before writing this review simply because Dragonshard is a difficult game to take in. I've been playing real time strategy since the original Warcraft, so I went into this game with a lot of expectations. At first, I was very frustrated. After a little while I was amused. At last, I was blown away.
This game is really well thought out. There's a lot of attention to minute details that add to the experience immeasurably. Many other reviewers have mentioned the resistances, the strategy, etc... but very few of them have talked about the pace of the game.
Unlike the Warcraft and Command & Conquer series, Dragonshard doesn't allow you to create a group of peasants/harvesters and set them to the task of gathering resources. Instead, you have to build up a small army of characters who, basically, adventure for gold. This and gathering Dragonshards from the local area add a complexity to the game that is unknown to previous real-time strategy games.
What this leads to is a breakneck pace to the game as you try, in essence, to play two pianos at once, ESPECIALLY in skirmish mode. The single player game is pretty straight forward, but its when taking on multiple AIs that the game really becomes maddening.
On the one hand you're trying to build up an army large enough to repel attacks and remain strong enough to invade the enemy. On the other hand, you're trying to assemble a force of cavern crawlers to get you the money to build such an army. If that sounds difficult, that's because it is.
The game has an addictive quality, though, that I could see really appealing to masochists. Even though playing the game, especially in skirmish mode, is serious punishment, its punishment I kept coming back for more of. Maybe its because after each time, I seemed to be getting the hang of it more and more. Eventually I was beating my opponents on harder and harder levels. Then, voila, the game became fun!
If you're interested in playing a game that takes an entirely new spin on D&D and RTS, I heartily recommend Dragonshard. If you're looking for your standard RPG or RTS fare, respectively, this game is a definite pass.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Between regular and bad.March 29 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
If you liked Warcraft III you may like this game. The game has a good engine, good sounds, good cinematic and characters are detailed, but that is all.
If the makers would had put some cool effects when using a spell or an ability, the game would be better. Buildings and fortress are a joke. Gameplay is all about units quantities, didn,t see much strategy in this game. The ending of the campaign was very disappointing.
This game could have been great, but it isn't.
In conclusion, i would recommend to try a demo before buying this game. I didn't like it, so i won't recommend it. Try something like Battle for Middle Earth instead.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very innovative, ambitious gameJan. 1 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
It's always refreshing to see a game developer go out on a limb and try something new. Taking such chances has resulted in both great games and bad ones. However, Dragonshard is definitely a good game which nearly measures up to its ambition. It's a convincing mix of Dungeon & Dragons-style roleplaying and real-time strategy (RTS) base- and army-building. It's not a superb game, but it pulls off innovative concepts that distinguish it from all of the unimaginative, run-of-the-mill RTS and RPG games out there.
Gameplay: The game comes with two single-player campaigns and a skirmish mode. There are three races (Order, Lizardfolks, and Umbragen) available in skirmish, but only Order (humans) and Lizardfolks get their own campaigns. Both campaigns are well done with seven full missions and many quests in each mission. You have to explore two maps--one above ground and the other underground--during each mission. The above-ground part generally plays out as a RTS game, with base building and army construction. There are only two resources to gather--dragonshards that rain from the sky and gold that you get from defeating monsters and taxation. Base construction is a bit different from most games. You have preset slots in which you can choose what kind of buildings to build. You get certain bonuses from building certain buildings alongside each other, but you have to choose wisely which buildings to build (you can't build everything). Each unit that you build is a captain who can spawn up to four additional attached units, depending on its level (and the level of the building it comes from). Buildings and units are upgraded with experience points that come from fighting opponents. The system is fresh and works very well. It encourages you to explore the overland map in search of dragonshards and the underworld map in search of gold. Either way, you'll be fighting both monsters and opposing armies. The only thing lacking in this system is that gold can become scarce, and you may have to sit around and wait to accrue enough tax income to build more units. Otherwise, the base-building in this game is a welcome departure from the traditional systems found in many RTS games.
The underground part of this game feels like a separate experience all together. It has a very D&D roleplaying feel to it, and the atmosphere can be very creepy. You can only take your captains underground; their attached units reappear only when the captains emerge from the below ground areas. Everything that you would expect in a D&D-style adventure is there--traps, treasure chests, tombs, spells, and no less than 30 different kinds of monsters. The campaigns add several quests to these areas, but the skirmish mode still maintains the dungeon-crawling atmosphere.
In addition to this dual gaming experience, Dragonshard has other things going for it. AI-controlled opponents are pretty good at posing a challenge. Pathfinding is decent, though occasionally a unit will take the long way to a destination. You can quickly view underground and above-ground areas with just a click of the mouse button, and there are hotkeys for most commands. There is a wide variety of units, abilities, and items available, although the roleplaying system is a bit lightweight due to restrictive leveling limits and an inability to truly customize hero characters. Overall, this is a very worthy game for both RTS players and RPG gamers.
The shortcomings of Dragonshard are mostly minor, except one. The game comes with only 10 skirmish maps (although the second patch added 2 more). This is inexcusable and will limit the replay value of the game. Unfortunately, no modding community developed around this game, and thus there are no player-made maps that can be downloaded. The fact that the skirmish maps are so packed with things to get into, both above ground and below ground, helps keep the game interesting, as well as the fact that there are various victory conditions that can be set. Also, the single-player campaigns run about 30 hours all together and are probably worth doing a second time since you'll probably miss a lot of side quests during the first time through. Still, this game should have shipped with at least 20 maps. (There is a map editor that can be downloaded from the Dragonshard website if you want to try your hand at it.) Other minor flaws include the inability to set unit formations (though you can hotkey melee or ranged units), a backpack that carries too few items, and a few campaign missions that are rather tough and require repeated efforts.
Graphics: The game looks pretty good. Environments evoke the appropriate feelings of dread, wonderment, and so forth, and the models are decent, though reminiscent of Warcraft 3. Spell effects and other visuals look good. I think that the underground areas are done especially well, and classic D&D monsters are convincingly rendered. The introductory movie is excellent.
Sound: The music is very good, as is the voice acting. Other sounds are appropriate, including the underground ambiance, combat effects, and cutscene dialogue.
Technical issues: With the second patch installed, this game was very stable on my computer. There was one hard freeze during a massive fight and a bit of lag during other big fights. However, overall, I haven't had any problems with the game.
Replayability/Value: The two campaigns are worth replaying a second time at some point, though I wish that the Umbragen had their own campaign as well. The biggest obstacle to replayability for Dragonshard is the unfortunate lack of maps. The dozen that come with the game and the second patch will keep you playing for a good while, since each map is essentially two maps (again, 1 above ground and 1 below ground). Still, if this game had shipped with 20-25 maps plus an Umbragen campaign, I would have been hard pressed to give it an outright 5-star rating. Anyhow, at the current price of less than $20, you'll easily get your money's worth. Nonetheless, this is pretty much a single-player game at this point, since I don't think that there's much of an online community.
Last thoughts: I'm a big fan of RTS and RPG games, and it is not uncommon to get a mediocre game in either category nowadays. However, Dragonshard does both genres well and blends them to make something truly special. For the current price, I can only highly recommend it. I just wish that the game had been popular enough to get an expansion or to produce a modding community.