by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
Easy to play, hard to win (cntd)
However, this user-friendly interface and the cartoony graphics may well lull you into a false sense of confidence. For, in fact, Fantasy Wars is a pretty difficult game to beat. Whatever hints the game gives you about keeping ranged units in supportive role behind your melee units, you should absolutely adhere to. Also, if you make the mistake of dividing your army into too many small companies to attack several targets at once, you may easily find that you've put the noose around your own neck. Even on Easy level, you will quickly learn to take advantage of every hill, swamp, forest and river that you can while you defend yourself against enemy attacks, or try to lure your enemy into a position where they lose their possible advantage.
On each map, there's a set turn limit for gold, silver and bronze victories, each of which awards you with a different amount of gold that you can use to make your army stronger and better for the next map. However, the time limits for gold victories are very tough indeed and require you to basically know the map very well from past attempts and head straight for your goal with no detours whatsoever. This, in turn, may stop you from finding out all the magic items on the map that might have helped you in a later battle.
The battle maps in Fantasy Wars are a pleasure to look at and the rotating and zooming in and out of the map all go without a hitch even on a mediocre gaming system. The units, as was said above, are easy to distinguish from each other and, with a little map-rotation, they are easy to click on and send to the desired destination. However, personally I simply hate the graphics style that you will be treated with when you view the story bits, i.e. the movies, in midst of the game. Here, you will see the characters wielding over-sized weapons and armour that should, if there was any fairness in the world of bad fantasy art, crush the people and creatures wearing them to death. For this, I blame only the WoW games. They are the root of this kind of idiotic exaggeration. Thus, although I like the graphical style of Fantasy Wars as a whole, I must detract a couple of points from the graphics score because of this artistic choice.
The music score, on the other hand, is a very pleasant experience with fantasy pieces that disappear nicely into the background but still enhance the overall experience of the graphical look and action – although, again, the music may trick you to believing that this is a light-hearted and easy strategy game when it is actually anything but.
Annoying bugs and glitches
The overall gaming experience was ruined to some extent by a couple of bugs that I encountered. The first of them was very annoying, while the latter stopped the game completely for me. In the first case, the final movie of the Human campaign refused to play properly and all I got was the soundtrack. From the sound of it, this movie would have probably offered some sort of a cliffhanger for the Orc campaign, but I was left wondering what it might have been.
The second bug was more game-breaking and basically crashed the game for me in the second-to-last mission in the Orcish campaign (I assume it was second-to-last by how it coincided with the Human campaign). Suddenly, at the end of a mission, I simply got an error message telling me that some hero was not found amongst the dead (or something to that effect) and the game must close. I tried applying the patch, but that broke my review copy (apparently different from the one sold to the public) and the game refused to even launch thereafter. From the lack of a public uproar, I can only assume that this was the fault of the review copy and not the final public version.
Good, average fun
Fantasy Wars may seem like an old-fashioned turn-based tactical strategy game when you give it a quick look and, for the most part, this first impression holds even when you play the game for a little longer. However, it manages to play the old tune with a fresh enough resonance to make the game worthy of the gamers' time. Although it is not the biggest and greatest strategy game out there, and even if the main story is very simplistic and mainly acts to bind the battles together, Fantasy Wars still manages to entertain the player for a good while – unless they are turned away by the difficulty of the game in general.
No Pros and Cons at this time