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Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne
|Price:||CDN$ 14.95 + CDN$ 5.54 shipping|
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Most strategy games of this type don't offer much in the way of tactics. Battles are usually somewhat simple affairs that you don't have much control over. One of the special features that AoW2 has is that you get to play out battles on the battlefield. When a big army of yours tries to capture a city, for example, the view switches to a blow-up of the city, and you command your units one-by-one. The battles are a lot of fun to play out, but you can put them on automatic if you get tired of them. Different units have different strengths and weaknesses, and advantages in certain situations. For instance, when I am attacking an enemy wizard's castle, I have my cannons smash the gate, and then send in the cavalry to race right to the wizard and take him out. Once you figure out how to conduct your units in battle well, you can formulate a high-level strategy for winning them. That is what makes this game such a rare perfect blend of strategy and tactics.
The game is somewhat complicated, but it is not tedious because of it. You can pick up general concepts and strategies and then dig deeper after that. That is why AoW2 is such a perfect mix of complexity and playability. The interface could use more hot keys, but other than that, it is great and it makes the game managable.
The game's fantasy setting is very well done. There are a lot of different races, and although some units are somewhat redundant, every race has at least one or two unique units that make it special. The maps are beautifully decked out in bright colors, and they never get redundant. That is saying a lot, since the single-player campaign has 20 big ones. The wizard portraits look great as well, but the units are kind of small and lacking in detail. The game doesn't look quite as pretty as say,Warcraft 3, but it still looks good.
Diplomacy is a somewhat weak link in "Age of Wonders 2", since most of your missions involve defeating one or more wizards, and diplomacy is almost pointless. That's about the only fault that I find in this outstanding game. If you are like me and you have been searching for that great turn-based strategy game, then look no further. Prepare for some sleep deprivation, and break out the Doritos: you're going to need them.
Other similar games: Populous, The Settlers Games, The Empire Earth Games, Civilization, Warzone2100, The Nations, and about every other strategy-empire building game out there that there is. I would definitely recommend it to everyone who owns a computer.