WarCraft II: The Dark Saga Review

Expect to kill a few weekends with it, and perhaps even a few work or school days, as well.

Warcraft II: The Dark Saga is the ideal game for the accountants, administrators, and restaurant managers of the world - and strangely enough, it works pretty well for the rest of us. The name of the game is resource management, cleverly disguised under the auspice of war. You choose sides over two different scenarios of orc vs. human conflict, adapted from the PC title Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and its expansion pack, The Dark Portal, and then throw down the gauntlet from an overhead perspective.

Like all strategy games, Warcraft II: The Dark Saga is basically an advanced form of chess; one where not only do the boards vary and you get to make your own pieces, but the main object changes as well. Though most of the 52 missions in the title require that you utterly overwhelm your opponent and burn down all their halls and farms, some entail building beachhead structures inside enemy territory, rescuing troops or forts, or even escorting dignitaries through dangerous terrain. You often start off with just a handful of troops and workers, then must assign the troops to patrol for enemies while the workers gather wood and gold to build farms, barracks, lumber mills, smithies, and the like. From there, new troops can be produced from the barracks, their weapons can be upgraded using the lumber mills and blacksmith, and other new products can be spawned after upgrading existing buildings. For example, workers will soon be building shipyards, foundries, and roosts that in turn create battleships, oil transports, and dragons. While the names may change depending on whether you're playing human or orc, the units remain the same.

Fans of the PC titles will be disappointed to learn that nothing new has been added to the game, even though several changes have occurred, such as the ability to auto-upgrade buildings, auto-build soldiers, and select more troops at once. These new touches are nice, but they're relatively minor, so PC gamers are well advised to avoid the console ports (though hats off to Electronic Arts for creating practically identical versions for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, unlike Virgin's handling of Command & Conquer). But if you haven't played it before, Warcraft II is an excellent game well worth the time and effort necessary to beat it. In all, it provides about several hundred hours of gameplay throughout its hoards of selectable and configurable missions. Whether this should be considered as an excellent value to the buyer or a blatant robbing of their youth, is really up to you, though. Expect to kill a few weekends with it, and perhaps even a few work or school days, as well.

The Good

  • N/A

The Bad

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