Overall, a very solid game, similar to Dungeon Siege with some some RTS gameplay thrown in.

User Rating: 8.9 | SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars PC
As a major fan of just about any and every RPG, whenever a new RPG comes out, I buy it, almost no questions asked. I picked up SpellForce 2 for $40 at my local video game store, and thus far I have not been disappointed. While not without a few rough edges (I'll get to those later) I have found myself spending more time than I should be playing SpellForce.

First off, what is it? Honestly, SpellForce 2 almost defies description. For those of you whom have played the Warlords Battlecry games (RTS with a hero character that gains experience as you progress), SpellForce 2 will seem very familiar... sort of. Fans of Dungeon Siege or Diablo (I really don't need to explain these ones, do I?) will also find a good deal of familiar material in SpellForce 2. Basically you have a group of six heroes (and/or heroines) that the storyline follows. Your avatar, the leader of said heroes, gains experience as quests are completed, and the other heroes lag about a level behind. When you level you gain access to better weapons and armor and also a magic and/or combat skill set, which you can mix and match as much as you want.

At intervals your avatar will be given command over a base and accompanying army, generally with the mission to destroy an enemy base that is large enough that if you send in just your heroes... they all die. Unfortunately, this is where SpellForce 2 falls a little short. While the RTS portion of the game is not particularly bad, in some ways it almost feels as if it is an afterthought to the RPG portion of the game. While most RTS games provide all sorts of upgrades for your units, in SpellForce 2, the upgrades just aren't there. There also are very few special powers available for your units.

Gameplay: 9

The controls for SpellForce 2 are very intuitve and easy to pick up. There is also a feature that makes fighting a little simpler called "click and fight." The way "click and fight" works is you select an enemy, and then boxes appear under all of your heroes and groups of units that give you options to attack the enemy. This is particularly useful for healing units, as you don't have to deal with hitting a hotkey, then casting the spell on the wrong unit. Instead you click on the unit to be healed first , then a cast heal box appears under all units that can heal, which can be clicked to cast. Honestly, I hope that option starts appearing in other RTS games, and am a little surprised no one has thought of it before now.

Camera control can be a little clunky, particularly around changes in elevation. You also have the ability to zoom in on you avatar and control with the A,W,S and D buttons, which I have found useless, but otherwise the controls are by and large excellent.

Graphics: 8

Nothing particularly special. Nice 3-D graphics, particularly of the terrain, and the ability to zoom in and watch the fights very closely if you so desire. Generally not a good idea in the middle of large battles, but it is there if you need it.

Sound: 8

The musical score is very easy to listen to. While not quite of the caliber of recent blockbusters, I have found myself humming the music from time to time. The sound effects sound like you would expect, from arrows hitting their fleshy targets to lightning bolts crashing down. Nothing exceptional, but nothing particularly poor either.

Except for the voices. The voice acting is not particularly poor, but the lines are all wrong. Basically, the text sounds like a poor translation. Which given that I believe the makers are German(?), is certainly excusable, but should at least be noted. Many of the words used don't mean exactly what the translators thought they meant, and while it doesn't break the game, it can be an annoyance, particularly for big fans of the english language (Hey, there have to be some out there!). Also, there are some issue with text being spoken after it should have been. Example, I free some dwarfs from a cage, then walk through an area that triggers them begging me to free them. Huh?

Value: 8
There is a good deal of play time to get out of this game. I've barely scratched the surface and have been playing for over 20 hours. There are many subquests to complete and while I am playing through with a pure fighter build this time, I will need to play through with a mage next time.

Tilt: 10
Dear Reader, perhaps you've heard of the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none?" SpellForce 2 is a good RPG, a good RTS, a good dungeon crawler game. It doesn't excel in any particular area, but the way everything has been put together works pretty well. I can't walk away from it. I've played it for 20 hours out of the last 60 since I bought it. It can be very addictive.

If you are looking for a pure RTS, this is not the game for you. Honestly. However, if you are a beginning RPGer, someone looking for a decent dungeon crawler, or just someone who likes video games, this game is a good deal.

In terms of stability and requirements, I haven't had any problems, no comment from the peanut gallery.

In summary, while not without its faults, SpellForce 2 is a very solid game. It is easy to learn, fun to play, and will provide hours of enjoyment, if you like that sort of thing.
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