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Elemental: War of Magic
PC

Reviewed on: PC

Developer:
Stardock
Publisher: Stardock
Rated: "T" for Teen



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
 
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User Rating: 6
 
 
   
     

In my job, I play a lot of video games, some of them are great - works of art even. Then there are those that are the complete opposite - horrid pieces of unimaginative dribble. By far though, the worst types of game I come across are the ones that shows promise, but don't live up to the potential.

Stardock's turn based strategy game Elemental: War of Magic is that type of game. Playing though the title, you can't help but notice the small sparks of originality and creativity in between the game crippling bugs and head thumpingly bad creative decisions. What's left is little more than a sloppy, incomplete game that could have been so much more than it is.

War of Magic puts players in control of either a band of humans or a disfigured and corrupted race known as the Fallen as they battle for shards of the Forge of the Underworld, a device created long ago by mystical beings known as the Titans that can create magical items. Your goal as the humans? Gather the shards of the Forge to restore order to humanity. As the Fallen? Pretty much the opposite. Yeah, it's a pretty hokey plot, but what it boils down to is your standard turn based fare, with epic battles and everything you'd expect from the genre...or at least it should.

"...the fully shipped retail version would encounter game crippling bugs..."

 
   

There's not really a nice way to put this; Elemental: War of Magic is broken. During multiple playthroughs, the fully shipped retail version would encounter game crippling bugs that would cause the game to be all but inoperable. This happened on multiple PCs, all of which easily surpassed the game's minimum requirements. The worst of the bugs always seemed to crash the game hundreds of turns in, causing the game to lose all progress. Of course, like most PC games, there's really no guarantee that you'll encounter any of these bugs, but let this serve as a very strong buyer beware.

When it does work, War of Magic is a passable strategy game that genre diehards are likely to appreciate. Amidst the standard strategy elements are a surprising amount of cool features that may take you by surprise. The game used the 4x formula, but allows the player tons of flexibility in just how they play through the game. There's also a cool customization engine that lets you design your own units with the items you unlock. It's a cool little mode but more often than not your best bet will be to just create the most powerful enemies you can, so it's unlikely to get used much at all.

For every right step the developers took with the game, they take three steps back, as Elemental: War of Magic is one of the most inaccessible games I've seen in quite some time. Newcomers to the strategy genre jumping into the title could be fairly compared to a blind man attempting to read a complicated instruction manual. In Spanish. Seriously, the in game help index, called the Hairgamenon fails to even tell the player each way that a game can be won. What results could be one of the most frustrating gaming experiences in a long time as players will be reduced to trying any number of tactics, only to fail repeatedly.

"By far, the worst part is the sloppy nature in which the game was produced..."

 
   

Perhaps the worst part of Elemental: War of Magic is the way it gets the minor details wrong. When a city you control levels up, the game rewards you, you get to pick a reward, but the dialogue box is so large that it takes up most of the screen and unless you've memorized that city's stats, you're pretty much picking a reward at random. Another issue is the fact that when something is happening away from your current location during a battle, the camera will quick pan over to it, and then back over to you, giving you almost no clue of where exactly it is in relation to your location. By far, the worst part is the sloppy nature in which the game was produced, letters and numbers are often placed outside of their elements, and there are misspellings practically everywhere in the game.

The AI in War of Magic is the equivalent of that of a bad first person shooter. Your enemies will often saunter out to the battlefield with little units and no defense, leading to an easy victory. Sure, it's great to level up easily, but where's the challenge? Turning the difficulty up will of course fix this a bit, but I never got the feeling that the game was challenging enough, there always seemed to be a way around everything.

There are the normal online modes you'd expect in Elemental: War of Magic, but after playing much of the single player campaign, you're not likely going to be much interested in playing them. Elemental: War of Magic should not have been released in the state that it was, as it's filled with sloppy design and game crippling bugs. If you looked hard enough, you're sure to find some cool elements, but they're quickly washed away by the negative aspects that are so prolific. 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: One Turn Technology, Spell Research, Unlimited Food, Gold, more

The CheatHappens.com trainer for Elemental: War of Magic has pretty much anything you could want for a strategy game, including one turn technology and spell research and unlimited mana, gold, and pretty much anything you can use in the game. The only problem is that the game still isn't much fun with them. Wait, I take that back - it did make playing through the game faster...so that's a win right there!

 

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