Saturday, 9 June 2012

Review: Warlords Battlecry 3

Warlords Battlecry 3 (WBC3) is a fantasy RTS game with role playing elements released in 2004 for the PC. The game allows players to fully customise their RTS gameplay and has become a cult classic for RTS gamers. WBC3 features extensive character customisation and a large free roam singleplayer campaign. Multiplayer and skirmish modes are also available outside the single player campaign setting.

Players begin by creating an army general/hero, really a mercenary leader, who commands your forces throughout the game. You control your general during battle, and dictate his campaign path using the overhead world map. During the course of the game, your hero will level up and you will have to decide which stats and skills to invest in. After numerous battles, your hero can potentially become a physical or magical wrecking ball, much to the ire of your enemies.

Hero Stats
WBC3's hero creation is what sets it apart from its RTS siblings. Featuring 16 different races and 28 characters classes, WBC3 has more in common with pen and paper character creation than a CRPG. 448 different combinations allows for very specific, player specified, gameplay customisation. Keep in mind that some race/class combinations are underpowered, some are overpowered and some are middle ground. If you want to play an insectoid warrior or minotaur wizard, WBC3 allows you the nth degree of customisation.

WBC3's single player campaign is extensive. There is a main storyline and story driven quests, but the game does not shackle you to it. The player is free to roam around the map, making friends and enemies as you go. The 16 races of Etheria inhabit the world and each are represented on the overhead map. Battles usually feature the local inhabitants and locals can be friend, foe or neutral to the player. Stealing from a race usually turns them hostile and the player will no longer receive missions from that race. Allied races become playable races that you can select to command before a battle starts.

Overhead Map
Once a battle or mission is selected from the overhead map, the player may then choose a few units to start with. Players can choose a standard racial selection of units or from a special retinue of hero units. The special retinue of units follows the hero and keeps experience from previous battles. After starting unit selection, the screen will then change to the RTS battle map.

Battles consist of creating race specific buildings and units to overcome your enemy. Racial units and buildings have different strengths, weaknesses and upgrade trees. Overall, it is a standard RTS featuring rushing, turtling, resource management, hero killing, fog of war, etc. Knowing your racial strength and weaknesses is often the key to winning. Your strategy will probably be rush building to your race's most effective units and then overwhelming your enemy with superior forces. Your leader and hero units offer flexibility when starting, building structures, maintaining resources and fighting. The enemy AI is adequate, but nothing amazing.

Battle Map
WBC3 also includes skirmish and multiplayer modes. Skirmish mode allows you to play heroes outside of the main campaign and test builds and units against each other. Multiplayer can be played over LAN or Internet and has a wide range of features and gameplay modes. WBC3 also contains a map editor which allows users to create maps that can then be used in skirmishes and multiplayer.

WBC3 was released in 2004 and I still have fun playing it today. The replay value of this game is immense, to say the least. If you are a fan of RTS games, and you missed WBC3 in 2004, you should probably check it out. The warlords series is definitely original and fun, and WBC3 offers a lot of gameplay and subtle depth for people interested in fantasy RTS games.

WBC3 is available here.

 -Did I mention WBC3 has 13 schools of magic?

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