Review of WarCraft II

Review-of-WarCraft-II-photoThis was originally published in 1996. The author was William Frazier. It’s neat to see someone’s excitement about a game that has become legendary.

When I reviewed Warcraft:  Orcs versus Humans, I predicted that it would be a top seller in 1995.  Since that review, Warcraft has consistently appeared in the Top 10 and 20 lists of CD-ROMs sold throughout 1995. Warcraft is one of the few games I played from beginning to end, so it was with great anticipation that I awaited the release of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness. Finally, in late November, Warcraft II hit the market, just in time for the Christmas rush.  In it’s first week Warcraft II became the number-one selling PC entertainment title.

Warcraft II is a continuation of the fantasy-strategy drama set in the original Warcraft saga.  Human and Orc civilizations continue their bloody clash of domination, seeking control of the world.  In Warcraft II, many new elements are introduced, including battle on the seas and in the air.  You are still required to produce gold and lumber to provision your armies, but you are now required to also drill for oil (offshore naturally and environmentally incorrect, but a challenge none the less).

My initial impression of Warcraft II was one of “hmm, this is easy”. The same old strategies used in Warcraft I made winning easy.  I was afraid that the new version would be a rote repeat of Warcraft I. By the time I reached mission 5 my concerns were dispelled.  The computer was the master.  Game play was again a challenge, and fun.  One factor that soon became apparent is the reduced effectiveness of archers.  In Warcraft I you could create eight to ten archers and repel most attacks. This doesn’t work in Warcraft II.  Another change I liked is the role of the clergy.  In Warcraft I, clerics were a separate entity.  In Warcraft II, the role of the cleric is combined in the Paladin/Knight character.  This character is both an effective fighter and a healer.

Warcraft II begins with the Human forces establishing civilization in a new mid-evil world.  Unfortunately the Orcs desire to continue the war, begun in Warcraft I,  in hot pursuit of human civilization.  The initial single player scenarios teach you the basics of survival; how to produce the raw materials, multiply your forces, and prosper.  As game play progresses, survival become problematic. Enemy forces become more aggressive and intelligent.

In Warcraft I, once you explored an area, all enemy movement within that area was visible.  “Fog of War”, a new element in Warcraft II, allows the enemy to maneuver without direct observation, even when you have already explored the area.  Although you can see the type of terrain explored, enemy movement is invisible when “Fog of War” is enabled, other than the area within your units direct line of sight. Surprise attacks are frequent and devastating.

I guess what I like most about the Warcraft series is the combination o f strategy with real time, on screen combat.  Your perspective is an overhead view of the battle ground.  You build and organize your forces, and when battle occurs you get to observe and direct it with a god like omnipotence.

Like Warcraft I, Warcraft II allows many opportunities for multi-player gaming.  You can play directly with another person via modem or direct connect null-modem.  Only one copy of the CD is required.  On a LAN, up to eight players can engage in head to head combat, again with just one copy of the CD.  Warcraft comes with a scenario editor for those who wish to customize their own games.

If you plan to purchase just one game in 1996, this is the one you want . As a stand alone game it provides many hours of entertainment. If you can play on a LAN or with your friends via modem, the entertainment value is limitless.

WarCraft II:
Tides of Darkness Blizzard
P O Box 18979
Irvine, CA 92713