#297 Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness

Posted: 14th July 2012 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

162nd played so far

Genre: Strategy
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1995
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

While the Warcraft universe is mostly known these days for its MMORPG World of Warcraft, the series originated as a strategy game, putting the Orcs versus the Humans (as the subtitle of Warcraft 1 said). The first one (as I know from experience) wasn’t very memorable and quite limited.

The second game improved on many aspects (again, I can say this from experience), and was the major competitor of Command & Conquer at the time, a spiritual successor of Dune II. While the latter kept churning out sequels, Blizzard held back, and in the past fifteen years we’ve only seen three sequels – two will be discussed on this blog in the future, while the third was released after the book’s release, so we’ll see what happens. Still, here it started, and branched off from other strategy games. Worth it?

Our Thoughts

As you can tell from the above, I know this game and played it well. The unit quotes were often quoted at school and considered highly amusing and when I got the game (including expansion) I played through it several times over. Seeing that I was five when this game was released this completely passed me by.

That levity still holds up. It’s as much fun to keep clicking the units for more quotes as ever and playing through that is still a lot of fun (although I did not like it when you made that sheep explode). The storyline is still quite opaque – although as with many strategy games, the true scope doesn’t become apparent until later. Either way, there’s not much to it, and aside from the level intros, has little bearing on the game. The mission objectives are based on some of the storyline. While they’re simple, they’re still more varied than the ‘destroy all enemies’ we see in more other strategy games at the time.

The graphics have a cartoony style. Not as much as later Warcraft games, but still slightly away from realism to help. Still, at the same time, not much to expect here (as so often), with repetitive trees. Still, the critters were cute and the maps Christmassy at times, which was nice enough. The orc peons do look incredibly cute. As do the seals, sheep, boars and plenty of other things on the map. Apart from the trolls which looked weird.

In the end, then, gameplay. As I mentioned earlier, one of nice things about the game is the variety in goals – defeating all enemies, freeing prisoners and building enough of a certain building are all goals that you see in the first few levels. This goal of defeating all enemies can really be annoying in the best of games since it means you have to trawl around the entire map looking for that one soldier where the pathfinding mechanics somehow lead him into an obscure part of the map which takes you five minutes to find… this happened with us a few times before we found the “turn off the fog of war” option. That made things a whole lot easier… but it did feel like cheating.

In some cases, this makes for a fast-paced game, but there are times where it ends up at the wrong end of the strategy genre in this. When you’re building your base and strengthening your troops, this can take a while where you’re just waiting for progress sliders to run out and enough gold being mined and wood chopped. You can strike out occasionally to take out a few outliers, but mostly it’s waiting. This is especially bad on the later levels when you’ve got a large base to build to get to the later units and get the others upgraded far enough to have them be enough of a threat. A zerg rush can help sometimes (Hi Starcraft reference!), but this time, while playing, I found the waits unnecessarily long sometimes.

I’m just glad that, after playing this game, I will no longer put my foot in it by assuming that just because World of Warcraft is a role-playing game that the Warcraft games would be too. Ah well, time to make mistakes about Diablo just to annoy Jeroen; always a fun pastime.

Final Thoughts

I’ve played and love this game’s successors, so know how this will improve down the line. The game is still good fun to play, despite the occasional annoyances. And despite those successors, the no-frills play compared to them is still fun, while at least giving more good options than Dune II did.

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