Monday, June 22, 2009

Epic War 3

The original Epic War (review coming soon) was an interesting take at the side-scrolling battle game, using a turret on top of your castle to aim, clicking a certain key or button onscreen to send a variety of units that automatically marched across the battlefield to combat whatever the opponent sent your way. The last level was almost impossibly difficult, sending an entire castle (with wings) to do ruin on your poor castle.

Jump ahead a few years and two sequels, and we find no turret on top of the castle, auto-creating units, ability to control the movement of the units, a new leveling system, and a map, allowing you to choose where to attack next.

At the start of the game, you decide a started hero, and each has his own unique leveling route, picking from different units and powers. After each battle, you are awarded money and experience, unlocking new abilities and units in battle and upgrading those units and abilities multiple times. This is a nice break from requiring to upgrade your mana during the match and the linear ability chart from the first map. Mana now is only reflected by what units you can use during the battle, but I found in my first run-through of the game that the mana level never limited the amount of different units and abilities. The mana is limiting on the "New Game Plus" mode once you beat the game, but more on that later.

When the battle starts, the units automatically start spawning, which is a great improvement over the constant clicking in the prior games. Unfortunately, the improvements of unit control end there. Once the unit is spawned, it just sits there. You are forced to click on the button or the number key that represents the unit, then click on where you would want it to go. This controls all of the units of the type and is awkward when you want to send 4 or 5 of your 7 units types to do battle. I ended up hitting 2, click, 3, click, 4, click, 5, click. A simple 'Auto move' button would have been a treat. There is a mass attack and retreat button, sending all of the units forward or back, respectively, but I usually didn't want to send my hero to the front line because of the other addition to the game: the counter attack.

When the player gets the upper hand and begins to damage the castle, the opponent unleashes a counter attack, which sends an endless supply of units out to crush you, especially in the later levels. I understand it is made to make it harder for the player to win, but make the units more balanced would have proved good enough.

Because of this counter attack, I lost a few defensive levels, during which I didn't get any defensive advantages or any difference of the battle system. These defensive missions would have been greatly improved by including the turret on top of the tower. I wouldn't have minded if the defensive enemy castles got them too, plus a little less of a counter attack. Making a diverse battle game was not achieved in this game. There was little to no penalty for a failed attack, except the fact you have to do the same battle again the next turn. This quickly became tiresome when I defended my castle, then had to fight again against the same opponent.

Eventually, the game gets very tedious, requiring the same strategy for each battle, no matter the opponent or situation. There is a small last boss that takes a little bit to bring down, but he never touched my castle.

Once you beat the game, "New Game Plus" and "Cave of Trials" mode are unlocked. This lets you play as a different character to get more cards, while allowing you to keep the cards you unlocked with the first character. This mockery of replayablity is just as bland as the first playthrough, and quickly becomes old.

Overall, this game was disappointing. A little more variety would have made the game great, and the different starting characters add a interesting, but all-together pointless addition to the game. A little more time on battle and character development would make Epic War 4 a great game, but looking on past trends, I'm not sure I want it made.

Final Score: 2/5 Poor