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Spellforce: The Order of Dawn
(hx) 05:02 PM CET - Mar,18 2004

Developed by Phenomic (the team behind the world-famous Settlers 1 and Settlers 3), Spellforce is a real-time strategy game which uses role-playing elements, along with some new gameplay mechanics. Spellforce offers intriguing main storyline which seems like it was inspired by Tolkien's work. In a world far away, thirteen magicians, blinded by the promises of some evil gods, have ignited chaos and mayhem in their greedy pursuit for god-like power. Summoned by the magicians through dark rituals, fierce elemental powers have torn the world's continents apart. Remaining are small islands, floating in the sky, connected by magic portals. Now, 8 years after the end of this huge sorcerer's war, evil tries to make its way back into the world and to finish what it once began. It's only up to you to reunite the races and the world before the evil that caused the fracture do something even worse.

The main part of SpellForce is an RTS game, but it uses some RPG-elements. At the beginning of the game, you have to create an avatar. Before you choose your race and alignment (good or evil), you are also able to select from a range of hero characters (male or female - with 30 or so faces to choose from). There are three different Combat-Abilities (Light, Heavy, Ranger) and four different Magic-Abilities (White, Black, Mental and Elemental). Each the ability has three sub-sections like necromancy, healing, large swords and stuff like that. SpellForce has a free character system, not a class system. In the beginning you can choose one ability, but later in the game you can also specialize in others - the system is open, and it's up to you, were you spend your ability-points. The skill system is not exactly D&D, but all of the expected factors are available such as strength, stamina, intelligence, charisma etc. Stats like wisdom and intelligence are important for your mana and therefore for the power of your spells. Stats like strength, stamina etc. are important for your power in combat.

The real-time strategy part of the game comes in once you get to Rune Monument from which all your units (workers, fighters, scouts, clerics, etc.) can be produced. Those monuments are some kind of an equivalent for main buildings/headquarters in traditional real-time strategy games. To summon workers or soldiers you will need to take control of the Rune Monument for a given race - that means you will also need a rune to build workers of that race. For example, if you don't have a dwarf rune, you won't be able to build up a dwarf army unless you've found one. Once the rune has been slotted on your runeboard, you can summon warriors and workers with whom you'll have to harvest the basic resources (Stone, Wood, Iron, Moonsilver, Aria, Lenya and Food) and construct buildings that will allow the creation of combat units. You start with a basic human worker, but by the end, you'll have runes for elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls and dark elves. The humans are a good mixture of melee units, casters and units with range weapons. The elves of course have the best range weapon units and also good casters but are not that strong in close battles, while dwarves are excellent fighters but do not use any magic at all. Trolls are slow and stupid, but make devastating use of their clubs. Orcs are a bit similar to the humans - better fighters, a bit weaker in magic. Last but not least we have the dark elves with powerful black magic units. The game allows you to build up cities and create armies with all six races at the same time, however it's possible that your units will start to fight each other as well, if units from the light side stand too close next to units from the dark side. Both sides share their resources by the way - so elves will use the same pool of stone or wood resources as dwarves, but orcs can not use the light pool and vice versa.

What about combat? Spellforce features a "Click'n'Fight system" which allows you to cast a spell or start an action with just two mouse clicks. With the first click you select the enemy (or one of your own units, if you, for example, want to cast a healing spell), this opens a list of all possible spells and actions at the bottom of each of your character portraits. Then you select an action or a spell with a second click. I'd say that this approach has worked very nicely, saving considerable amount of time. You can control your huge armies through an isometric view and then zoom into a traditional third-person RPG perspective (over the shoulder view) to control individual units. You can always switch to a preferable camera view. For example, the battles are particularly enjoyable to observe in the 3rd-person perspective, where the game world looks more vibrant and "alive." Controlling the game is about as easy as it gets, enough said. If I have any complaints, it would be multiplayer which offers only head-to-head and team-based competition. There are no other multiplayer game modes.

Overall, Spellforce is one of the best RTS/RPG games out right now, and better compared to the games that are being recently released. The gameplay is fairly fun and addictive and it takes a long time to plough through. I recommend you to try out the demo (322MB) if you're unsure you want to buy it, but if you like it - buy it!

gameplay movies: movie1 (21MB), movie2 (18MB) /DivX required/

System requirements:
Minimum: Intel Pentium III 1GHz, 256 MB RAM, 3D-Graphic card with 32 MB RAM (compatible with GeForce2 or better), 2GB free HDD space
Recommended: Intel Pentium 4 1,8 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 3D-Graphic card with 64 MB RAM (compatible with GeForce4 Ti or better), 2GB free HDD space

snd: 4/5 - crisp sound effects, orchestral musical score fits well, voice-acting ranges from adequate to downright embarrassing
gfx: 5/5 - great (based on Krass engine from Massive Development), a huge variety of different landscapes, good attention to detail, stunning opening intro, steep hardware requirements
playability: 5/5 - excellent combo of RTS and RPG elements, rich story, high replay value, mediocre AI, no single-player skirmish maps, long load times, some bugs ( I recommend to install a patch & latest drivers)
genre: RTS/RPG hybrid
release: March 2004
developer: Phenomic
publisher: Encore Software
Overall: 86%

last 10 comments:

xxxxposted - Mar, 19 2004 - 14:46
anyone playing this game yet? i've read HX review, seems good but wondering if anyone bought this and is playing it? is it really worth it?

magaposted - Mar, 19 2004 - 14:48
i heard it's extremely long, 60-80 hours of play.

xxxxposted - Mar, 19 2004 - 15:50
wow. thats pretty good, just wondering on gameplay now. seems that the mp play is kind of weak..60-80 hours is not bad tho.

Ken"The Bastard"Howaposted - Mar, 20 2004 - 18:16
Huh!Huh!Huh!!! By btw boys my name is PEAGUSES and I'm from the cartoon series "YU-GI-OH" Ooohh Huhh! Hahaha. Well what-UP is the SPELL FORCE: The Order Of Dawn, any good anybody know let me know please.

FatFishposted - Mar, 20 2004 - 23:34
Its very good and VERY long. though it does demand a pretty good machine to run it, but its really worth the buy, to bad there's no skirmish but I-net play makes up for it.

CyBeRsToRmposted - Mar, 21 2004 - 12:02
i have already played it here in germany. story, graphics and gameplay are very good! yea, u play 60-80 hours on it :) just the end is a bit strange... but the game is really worth to buy it.

daddyposted - Mar, 21 2004 - 12:14
If the game had female nudity, there would be a lot more comments posted here.

johannes paulposted - Mar, 22 2004 - 13:18
Well-well, i´ve played the game too. It is a very good game, as HX showed in his review, but it has some glitches. First of all - you walk a lot, without any action. Sometimes you have to walk over a couple of maps for a simple quest. An other point is, that whatever you build on a map is lost and gone after leaving this map. So you have to think about leaving a map twice. Oh, and then there are the crashes - even after the patch. Anyway, it´s a lot of fun, even the story isn´t worth anything.

Sorceriousposted - Mar, 22 2004 - 13:51
Game is very addictive and as said above, pretty long. Especially if your the type that likes to do things perfect and likes to make your main character UBER! As for the walking part Johannes Paul, I did at first but then realized what the bind stones are for. You can warp from map to map. I give this game a 8/10.

Howardposted - Apr, 05 2004 - 22:39
Well, I've tried very hard to like this game especially since I greatly respect the reviews here. But, every time I boot the game up and try to do the tutorial, I am struck by how 'clunky' the interface is, especially the views. I also could not figure out how to get the guy I summoned to follow me when I'm in the mode that views from behind me at ground level moving with the arrow keys. He only seems to follow when I am in overhead mode. Right now I'm playing Sacred and having lotsa fun! It's an excellent game! Howie

Ar4aposted - Aug, 18 2004 - 12:00
I have the game, its great. game play and story is the best

Death_Hydraliskposted - Sep, 04 2004 - 13:36
i love this game its so funny but my computer turns off in the game sometimes it have happend twice but its funny P.S any1 heavy combat guy? i am a girl heavy combat type shes good shes got a dwarf bone-breaker bye bye

Mike-Musolposted - Dec, 20 2005 - 20:18
This game sims to bee good and i want to get it on cd how many cd's is the game

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