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SpellForce 2 Shadow Wars Review

Spellforce 2 Shadow Wars pack shot
Developer:Phenomic Game Development
Publisher:Aspyr Media / JoWood
Genre:RPG/RTS Hybrid
Official Site:http://www.spellforce.com/
Release Date:April 21, 2006 (UK)
Reviewer:Ryan Sayce (Stan)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

Spellforce 2 is a fantasy RPG with RTS bits thrown in for good measure, think of a cross between Neverwinter Nights and Warcraft 3 which unfortunately lacks some of the polish that made those games great.

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While the graphics pale against the likes of Oblivion this is still a good looking game with an impressive day/night cycle, when the sun comes up in the morning everything has a red hue and is really rather pretty. There are other good graphical effects, for example; shooting down a harpy, instead of it just falling to the ground or disappearing into thin air, it explodes in an impressive shower of blood and feathers. However in something that seems to becoming more popular of late this game doesn't run half as well as it should. I'm lucky enough to be running a very high-end machine but Spellforce 2 can slow my rig down to 20 fps in places.

There are a large amount of tweakable options to make sure the game runs properly on your system, but I really shouldn't have to turn any details down in a game that looks like this while running SLI. Max details really should be easily attainable unless the games' engine is truly next-gen and designed to last years.

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Having had a bit of a pop at the graphical engine, I'll move onto sound. To be frank, it's by far the worst thing about this game; it is no exaggeration to say I have heard better voice acting in the adult film industry, infact the acting was so bad that after the first few hours the only way I could play the game was with the sound turned off. However, in a small saving grace, the music isn't terrible but it just doesn't quite seem to fit the action that well, to be fair you can turn down the volume down but you shouldn't have to do that on a game you have just paid for.

Moving into the storyline, you play a Shaikan hero who is the only chance to unite the world and save it from the shadow, you do this by controlling different hero's and armies. Your main character has the blood of a dragon running through his vein's, luckily for him and us this means that when ever one of his party dies he can bring them back to life or summon them to wherever he is on the map.

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Most of the Gameplay is RPG based with you building/recruiting your army when your hero's wont be enough to face the impending task. It has to be said that the RPG parts play better than the levels that add this RTS element, maybe this is down to the fact that I have a habit of just building large amounts of units and rushing the enemy rather than using a detailed strategy.

You do get to control several races including human, orc, dwarven and Elven, my personal favourite is the Elven race as they have a unit that can heal others so all you have to do is build say twenty of these to go in your army and its near impossible to lose the battle as long as you look after these guys. As often seems to be the case the Orc side is just about large numbers of units rather than any real strengths and as always I find these races's to be the least fun to play. You collect resources by harvesting the stone, silver and "Lenya", the silver goes towards paying for everything including units and buildings, stone is needed for the buildings and the Lenya which is a type of plant needed for certain unit types i.e. the Elven healers.

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When your character level's up you get a screen where you get to choose what to spend your skill point on, sadly there isn't a lot of choice on what to upgrade with your standard stats like strength and agility either not present or done in the background. This means that for the most part your characters don't feel especially unique other than the fact that some cater slightly more towards magic or has more health.

Now I know I haven't been overly positive about this game because there are better RPG's and there are better RTS's but it has to be said I cant think of a RTS game with as detailed a RPG element or the ability to use such a very wide range of armour and weapons. The highlight of this game without a doubt is the sheer amount of items you can get, you find yourself wanting to keep on playing just to get a high enough level to use that new sword you picked up.

Spellforce 2 has three different sides you can control in multiplayer and each of these has three different types of upgrades available for instance the Realm [the good guys] has Human, Dwarf and Elven units and buildings available. There are a dozen multiplayer maps and in my opinion the thing most games are lacking Cooperative play, however when I logged into the multiplayer servers I found there was only a handful of servers available and most had pretty poor pings. Now I know some of you out there may be thinking what a load of rubbish he didn't play the co-op feature because he has no friends, I am here to tell you while that may be true I couldn't even find anyone with the game to bribe to play coop with me!


Given that if you use your friendly local search engine you can find this game for less than twenty British pounds I am hard pressed to think of a game that gives you more for your money, just for the single player campaign alone you can play this game for over 60 hours. Sadly it isn't anything new and does suffer from what can only be described as voice acting that makes me want to perforate my ear drums just so that I don't have to listen anymore. As always it comes down to would I recommend you part your hard earned cash on this game, honestly I really don't know, you do get a lot of game for your cash and this is one of the few games with co-op, so I guess if you are the sort of person who enjoys co-op more than the single player then I would recommend Spellforce 2.

The bottom line
6.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Large amounts of Gameplay
  • RPG and RTS elements in one game
  • Cooperative play
  • Decent Graphics

Not so good stuff

  • Some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard
  • Cliché Story
  • Nothing new
  • Many better RPG and RTS games out there