by Marko Susimetsä
reviewed on PC
Fantasy Wars may be the least exciting name one can give to a game, but, in the case of this turn-based tactical strategy game, it describes the content of the game spot on. What the developer Ino-Co delivers is a relatively simple game in shiny wrappings that still manages to hold your attention for a good while. But, I'm getting ahead of myself; let's get some basics out of the way before giving the final judgement on the game.
Fantasy Wars allows you to experience more or less the same campaign from the point of view of either human or orcs. Or, more to the point, you'll have to play through both sides of the campaign in order to unlock the third campaign featuring elves and dwarves. The basic premise of the campaign is simple enough: Humans battling Orcs for territory in a series of episodic battles ranging throughout the Empire of Eolia. Eventually, as the story progresses, Humans will ally themselves with the Elves in order to stop the advance of the Orcish hordes. In addition to the campaign, you can choose to play one of five possible single missions, or one of five possible multiplayer games (hotseat or LAN).
What are your hordes made of?
The units in Fantasy Wars are what you'd expect from a generic fantasy game: swordsmen, archers, scouts, mounted units etc. Each faction has their version of each unit type and they are graphically distinct enough for you to quickly make out what the enemy army consists of. In addition to these basic units, you also get special hero units, such as the leader of the Human armies and his advisers: a mage and a priest. These units have special powers in the form of healing spells, as well as spells for attack and defence. Furthermore, you can never let the leader of your army die – that will cost you the entire battle - while the deaths of the advisers are only temporary (they pop back up after the current battle).
As your units fight and win battles, they will also garner experience that allows them to level up and learn new skills and tricks. These usually increase either your attack or defence values in one way or another, increase the unit's movement or, in the case of magic users, allows them to learn new spells. Normal units cap at level five, but hero units can go as high as level ten and can thus gather a very large selection of special skills and abilities. Also, you may find magic items that you can give to particular units to further boost their strength.
As was said above, Fantasy Wars delivers the main story from three different perspectives. Basically, as you play through small encounters with enemy armies in various regions of the Empire, you will be delivered another piece of the great story every time you win one encounter and move on to the next map. And, as you play through the maps, you will be rewarded with new, stronger units that you can purchase or upgrade your existing units to. In order to upgrade a unit, or to purchase new ones, you need to earn enough gold in your battles. This you can do by exploring the map and conquering towns that are held by the enemy and, more importantly, by winning the maps in a designated time for gold, silver or bronze victory.
Easy to play, hard to win
The user interface in Fantasy Wars is very user-friendly. Indeed, you can rotate your view, zoom in and out, and basically get as much information about the situation as you possibly can before you commit to your actions. Naturally, there's still the traditional fog of war to hide the enemy units from you until one of your units can see them, but all the other information is right there where you need it. When you activate a unit, you will immediately see the distance it can move that turn and which units it may attack. You will also see the health of your units and those of the enemy without having to browse through any charts whatsoever.
The maps are divided into hexagons - this may be one of the oldest ways to calculate the unit movement on a strategic map, but it is also the best – and each hexagon can hold only one of your units at a time, unless you have flying units that can naturally hover above any other unit. Each hexagon will also be one of a selection of terrain types: hills, river, swamp, plains or urban, and thus they offer different bonuses or penalties to the attack and defence attributes of your units.
No Pros and Cons at this time