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Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (PC) artwork

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (PC) review

"Warcraft 2 is a must-have for any serious real time strategy fan. Despite being around for a good many years, Warcraft 2 still boasts excellent, fun, and entertaining gameplay."

Once upon a time, Blizzard Software created a game. This game was called Warcraft. While not an insanely popular blockbuster like DOOM or Wolfenstein 3-D, it achieved a cult following, and made a considerable profit for Blizzard. Using this money, it began development on Warcraft 2.

Warcraft 2 started the massive online movement of real time strategy games. Later, the formula was improved and refined by Command and Conquer, Starcraft, Red Alert, and others, but most real time strategy games can find their roots in Warcraft 2. If you're not familiar with the genre, you basically control every aspect of a colony or group. This is usually executed with the mouse pointer, in conjunction with the keyboard.

At the time of its release, Warcraft 2 was revolutionary. It was the first which allowed you to develop multiple units, instead of having to wait for each one to finish. It also boasted a 150 character limit for each player, up to eight players, a significant upgrade. Everyone in the gaming engine, there were tweaks and upgrades to the format that were not surpassed until the releasal of Starcraft.

In Warcraft 2, you control one of two races, either humans or orcs. Each race has their own distinctive feel, and different types of characters. Your job in most stages is to build up a base and conquer the enemy forces, whether they be orcs or your own rebellious forces.

You do this by harvesting timber, mining gold, and syphoning oil. Timber is used to build most of the structures in the game, such as farms, barracks, and castles. Each structure comes with a benefit; ability to produce archers, ability to produce knights, more wood production, ect. Gold is used primarily in commissioning troops. However, gold is also needed to build structures. Oil is used mainly for water devices, such as ships.

The units are fairly well-balanced in the single player campaign. For each unit, their is a counterunit which can bring it down. Ogres are stronger then Knights, but they can not heal themselves. Archers are stronger than Orc Slingers, but don't have as much range. The game's characters are in a constant give and take which ensures that a single player game relies mostly on skill.

However, in multiplayer, the advantage clearly goes to the Orcs. Ogres, an Orc unit, has the ability of bloodlust, which substantially increases their attacking speed. A squad of nine can make quick work out of even the biggest village.

Outside of this flaw, the multiplayer experience is extremely fun. Campaigns between players can become long and drawn out epic affairs, with the advantage constantly swinging back and forth. On a large map, games can last more than three hours. However, there are also smaller maps, which can be played in as little as thirty minutes.

Graphically, Warcraft 2 somehow manages to still look fresh. The characters are not extremely well-detailed, but they're clean, crisp, precise, and most importantly, do not carry any slowdown with them. Likewise, the sounds are deep and majestic, carrying an orchestrated tint to them. The effects leave something to be desired though; most are heard in the first three or four stages, and repeated throughout the game.

Warcraft 2 is a must-have for any serious real time strategy fan. Despite being around for a good many years, Warcraft 2 still boasts excellent, fun, and entertaining gameplay. It can be found in most major computer stores, in the bargain bin, next to copies of Everquest and Diablo for ten bucks. It's a steal of a deal.

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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