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Disciples II: Guardians of the Light

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: Strategy First
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Take a little bit of Civilization, add a dash of Betrayal at Antara's battle system, and finish off with a pinch of Warcraft-esque resource gathering and you get something resembling Disciples II: Guardians of the Light from Strategy First. Disciples II: Guardians is one of the latest in the Disciples series and is a stand-alone expansion to Disciples II: Dark Prophecy that includes the original Disciples II content, as well as the new Guardians of the Light scenarios.

The graphics are so good, it's hard to tell if they are 2D or 3D, if you catch my meaning. The quality is very high and does the game proudly. It's not without its flaws, however. It can be very hard to distinguish creatures on the map, even with the option to put big, red flags next to them. The animation, however, is all very good. Archangels glide smoothly through the air, and huge ogres will lumber slowly wherever they are going. The battle screens are easy to follow, and the character sprites are big, vibrant, and excellently animated. So, while it may not be fully 3D, the game probably looks better because of it.

The sound and music in Disciples II: Guardians compliments the visuals perfectly. Despite the subtitle Guardians of the Light, most of the sound and music is as dark and brooding as the graphics. The battle noises of sword and blood, the map sounds of walking, entering battle, and city building - it all has an extremely somber note to it. Even the sounds of an angel flapping its wings are heavy and earthy. The music is equally foreboding. Soft and ambient in the background, most of the musical pieces remain very ominous throughout the game.


Disciples II: Guardians of the Light plays something like Civilization crossed with heavy RPG elements. The gameplay is centered on groups of characters you move around a map while you try to gain control of resources and cities. Sound an awful lot like Civilization? Well, yeah, it's got some similarities, but the sim parts are simplified and there's a lot more RPG to it.

Resources, for example, are pretty straightforward. You have gold that is used for various things like building and buying, and various types of mana that are used for spell research and casting. Sources of this resource are located on the map, and you gain control of them by placing your 'terrain type' under it. All buildings under a faction's control slowly change the terrain around it. When this terrain change reaches a resource location, it starts adding to your resource pool every turn. You don't have to wait though; you can also use archangels (or whatever the unit is for your face/faction) to place rods that will create your terrain under it immediately.

The RPG elements I mentioned are the battle and leveling system. When you approach an enemy unit, the game switches to the battle screen like countless other games. Battles are turn based and have the usual choices of defend, wait, attack, etc. Characters only have one type of attack though, which is determined by their character classes. There are two types of characters: leaders and the normal, everyday kind. Any group that leaves a town must have a leader character. Every leader also has a leadership skill that determines how many total characters can be in the group. As characters gain levels, they will transform into different classes depending on how you build your capitol city.


Disciples II: Guardians of the Light is almost deceptively simple, at first. The first few fights against neutral goblins and orcs will lull you into a sense of complacency. However, when you being running across units from opposing factions - watch out! That group of demons or dwarves may just wipe out your only group of level 2-3 guys. This is definitely one of those games that is easy to play, but hard to master. Your group makeup is critical. You'll want to make good use of thieves so that you can see an enemy party's makeup before you choose which group to send at them. The game ends up being a lot deeper than you might think at first sight.

Game Mechanics:

As with most PC games, you can use the mouse for just about everything, but there are, of course, plenty of shortcut keys with the keyboard. The character interface on the map can be a little irritating, and you'll end up moving a group you didn't intend to move more than once. Also, there's a little window you can make come out to show your resource amounts, but the darned thing just never stays out.

The different faction scenarios are relatively independent of each other, so you can start with any of them you prefer. None are really more difficult than the other, and there does seem to be a chronology to the scenarios, but I was never able to sort it out. The story starts off in a pretty typical fashion. Though not the deepest stuff in the world to begin with, it does pick up a tad.

Disciples II: Guardians of the Light doesn't seem like much at first glance, but if you let it, the gameplay can become quite compelling and you'll find yourself hard pressed to stop playing.

-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 95/98/2000/XP, Pentium II 233 Mhz, 32 Mb RAM, 200 MB hard disk space, DirectX 7.1, 16-bit sound card, CD-ROM drive quad speed or more, Video Card with 8 MB RAM

Test System:

Windows 98, Pentium III 700 Mhz, 256 Mb RAM, DirectX 9, Sound Blaster Live! 5.1, GeForce4 MX420 with 64 megs of RAM

Sony PSOne You Don't Know Jack Nintendo GameCube Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles

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