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Heroes Chronicles: Warlords of the Wasteland

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 3DO
Developer: New World Computing
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The entire Heroes Chronicles series uses the Heroes of Might and Magic III engine, and as such, has the same graphics and sounds. The maps look drawn and tile-based, and the creatures in battle have a hybrid drawn/rendered look thatís quite nice. Not an ounce of 3D anywhere, unless you count the blurry FMV, but thatís not why youíre playing a Heroes game, now is it?

The same goes for the sound. Except for voice acting during the cut-scenes, Heroes Chronicles: Warlords of the Wasteland contains mostly screeches and grunts from battles, the occasional trill when you find something cool, and nice background music. Itís not particularly memorable, but after playing the games for as long as I have, itís impossible not to remember the tunes.

Presentation has never been the Heroes seriesí strong suit, however. The good stuff is in the gameplay.


Gameplay:

Unfortunately, Warlords of the Wasteland just doesnít offer quite enough gameplay for the money spent. Even though itís a ďbudgetĒ title ($20 or thereabouts), it doesnít contain enough missions to really make it worth it. Spend a long day with it and youíll beat the game, and after that, thereís really not much else to do with the title.

What Chronicles attempts to do is make a coherent storyline. You play as Tarnum, a barbarian warlord, out to rebel against the evil overlords. Throughout the levels, youíre often presented with little messages in-between turns that ďadvance the storyline.Ē While itís somewhat intriguing, I was never entirely convinced that the story in Chronicles held up any more than any of the campaigns in, say, The Restoration of Erathia. Thatís not to say the levels are bad -- in fact, some of them are quite good. Theyíre just not as coherent a whole as 3DO would like you to believe.

As for the gameplay, itís identical to Heroes of Might and Magic: III: the same units, same towns, same everything. Fortunately, I love the entire Heroes series, so that didnít bother me. What bothered me was the brevity of the game and, well, lack of lasting value.

For what itís worth, the Heroes engine has been perfected over the years, and the levels that you play are all highly enjoyable. The timed level a few missions in is fun, even if I completed it with a good two months to spare.


Difficulty:

Unlike Shadow of Death or Heroes III: Complete, Warlords of the Wasteland doesnít have any really difficult scenarios. The timed one came the closest, and even that I beat with major time to spare. The fact that Tarnum carries over between the levels, keeping all his skills, makes your life easy. Quick recommendation: Take Tactics as high as it can go. The ability to rearrange your troops pre-battle can make or break your strategy.

Itís rather obvious that this game was intended for newcomers to the Heroes line, however.


Game Mechanics:

The mechanics in Warlords of the Wasteland are just as tight as theyíve ever been. The computer plays rather savvy at times, and at other times, you wonder what moronís behind the other team. But the sides are quite balanced, the maps are designed such that you get the resources you need when you need them, and the game itself moves along briskly. The menus are clear and understandable, although looking for the save button for the first time might be something of a pain.

Itís not that Heroes Chronicles: Warlords of the Wasteland isnít entertaining. Itís that itís just too short. Pick up a copy of Heroes III: Complete instead, which has unlimited replayability, unless youíre a complete fan of the series and need every title. If youíre a newcomer, it may be right up your alley as well, but veterans of the Heroes titles need not apply.

Note: As an added bonus, if you buy two of the Chronicles titles, you can download a free fifth Chronicle off of 3DOís website. While nice, it doesnít quite make up for the cost.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Win9x/NT4, P133, 230MB HD Space, 32MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, Sound Card, Keyboard, Mouse
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256 MB RAM, 6X/24X DVD-ROM, Sound Blaster Live!, Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra w/32 MB RAM

Windows Ground Control Windows Jetfighter IV: Fortress America

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated