: Spellforce Platinum Edition
: 2003 for The Order of Dawn (original game), Breath of Winter and shadow of the Phoenix (2004 – both are expansions)
: Phenomic Game Development
: Aspyr Media for the Platinum Edition
: Spellforce is proof # 153 (and counting) that ze Germans are really good at making videogames. This unknown and underrated masterpiece is one of those games that will remain in your mind forever, since there aren’t that many to be compared with. These people from Phenomic care about their franchise, continuing to release new stuff even seven years after. They were doing this before, now probably they are ordered to do so by their new masters, EA.
: The Convocation ritual had been designed to master the power of Elements. Even though their original intent was to install an era of peace, in the end the Circle of Mages (the most powerful beings in the land of Eo) collapsed because of its egotistical members, most of them holding a desire to rule over the others with the help of this newly-found godlike power obtained during the ritual. The mages assembled huge armies, led by rune warriors whose souls are trapped inside runestones. These individuals are immortal, the owner being able to resurrect them while visiting the hero monuments. While these mages and their armies left only death and destruction in their wake in what is known as the Convocation War, the Elements unleashed themselves and crumbled the land into islands, initially unreacheable.
The character, a rune warrior and former servant of the Circle, enters the stage, being summoned forth by Rohen, the last Circle Mage. His mission is to colaborate with the Order of Dawn in order to discover the evil machinations threatening the divided lands.
The plot is nicely constructed in this high fantasy setting, the main story being shrouded in mystery for a good part of the game. The player has the opportunity to find out more details and lore from various individuals when doing side quests.
: Spellforce is a hybrid game in the vein of Warlords Battlecry series. The player performs quests (main and side quests) while he must ensure that his base is growing, providing him with valuable support units.
The RPG part.
The player must select and configure an avatar, assigning stats and skill points, choosing various skills and selecting the gender and look. The skills are divided in two – melee and magic. An avatar can specialize himself in any of these skills, but he can reach the maximum level only in a few. The melee category is divided between Light, Heavy and Ranged Combat with several specializations for each part, including Light and Heavy Armour as well as Shield. Besides these skills, there are a number additional combat skills, obtainable after a certain level. As for magic, there are four schools of magic, each holding up to three specializations: White Magic (Life, Nature, Boons), Black Magic (Death, Necromancy, Curses), Elemental Magic (Ice, Fire, Earth) and Mind Magic (Enchantments, Offensive magic, Deffensive magic).
The inventory system holds several additional compartments, like the runeboard (to manage the heroes and the race runes) or the board where you keep track of your units and buildings according to race (you need to posses unit and building plans in order to be able to use them, just like the runes).
The RTS part.
There are six races: Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Dark Elves and Trolls (in the original game). In order to be able to use any of these races, first of all you must have a worker rune and have it placed it in the rune board. The second prequisite regarding the units and buildings has already been mentioned above. Spellforce puts up a number of seven resources: wood, iron, stone, food and three different resources (according to race) needed to summon more powerful or magical units or to build further improvements . As a side note, the workers don’t require any kind of resources.
The player is able to play any race(s) as long as that race has a summoning monument on the map. He needs to activate the monument in order to summon the workers; after this, he can develop as in any other RTS game. If a summoning monument is deactivated, all that was built or summoned from that particular place vanishes in thin air.
Each race has similar buildings, serving the same purpose and a few others which are unique. The units for each faction are divided between light, medium, heavy and magical units (two or three magical units per faction which is pretty neat, if you ask me). The last and most powerful unit is the Titan, similar to its counterpart in Warlords battlecry, albeit not that powerful. Only one these cumbersome beasts can be present at one time.
Additional heroes can be summoned from hero monuments, in the same fashion as with the rest of the units. They are more powerful than normal units, can be equipped and are practically immortals, possesing the capability to be resurrected over and over again at those monuments, IF there are any of those on the map.
The maps are big enough and quite numerous. One can travel between different locations by using portals and bindstones (teleporters). It should be noted that a quest or a side quest can make you comeback on a particular map.
The AI is nothing to be proud of. The enemies are not harvesting for resources, instead they are using spawning vortexes, sending against you wave after wave. The only way to prevent this is to destroy all the building in that area. One part that I really enjoyed is that an unit having a low health can’t fight or walk properly; a badly injured enemy unit tends to withdraw from the melee until his health rises a bit.
Some of the controls are good, while others are bad. The player has the ability to form and assign unit groups according to his wish. The interface provides quick-action keys for various assignement, like melee attack, combat ability or spell casting. The most annoying fact is that it’s hard to target a particular unit inside a mob or if he’s behind an obstacle like a tree or something.
Spellforce has also a free mode, more like a random campaign. The multi-player part remains unfamiliar to me nut I guess it should be close to the free mode.
: The game engine is awesome, rendering lots of details to the enviroment, units and buildings. The fact that you can zoom-in in 3rd person and witness, for example, a dawn, a clear sky or the sun going down is pure awesomeness, considering how old this game is.
10/10 (for 2003)
: The in-game sounds are decent enough. However, Spellforce shines when it comes to the quality of music, some of greatest music ever composed for a videogame. Most of the regions and quite a few towns have a theme of their own. The voice acting part is bad but at least the dialogues are balancing the things up.
: Considering that there are many possibilities to build a character from scratch, the free play mode or the lengthy campaigns, I should say that this game has an everlasting appeal. Paying a few measly euros or dollars for a bundle like Spellforce Platinum is definitely a steal.
: Lengthy single-player campaigns (80+ hours), free mode campaign, multi-player campaign, interesting story, awesome music, great graphics for its time.
: linear gameplay, the RTS part can’t possibly satisfy a hardcore gamer, the camera control can be annoying sometimes, mediocre AI, there are no building or unit stats, bad voice acting, lack of upgrades.
: Spellforce is a great game which manages to deliver what it was meant to deliver in the first place. There are better role-playing or real-time strategy games out there on the market but I really can’t think of a better hybrid game than this one.