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Fantasy Wars

Score: 71%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atari
Developer: 1C Company
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 3
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

With a name as generic as Fantasy Wars, you're not exactly expecting epic anything, really. The mediocrity extends to the game itself, unfortunately. If you're new to the genre, or just dislike the pace of real-time strategy games, you may get a kick out of it.

Graphics are pretty decent, but blocky looking. Grass and trees have a cardboard cut-out look to them at times. There were some graphical glitches such as units remaining invisible during entire missions, but they weren't frequent or severe enough to halt gameplay. You can leave the view of battle set to only show one soldier to represent each unit. The game will randomly zoom in on some battles so you can see just how many beings actually make up each unit. With this, you get a feel that the battles are happening on a larger scale. The animations for characters are pretty generic, but they get the job done. It would have been nice to see different attacks happen based on different situations, but you see the same animations for every fight, no matter what the situation was. Granted, when you see 5 guys against one, it does look different, but those 5 people are still doing the same thing they did when it was 15 against 15.

Though the creatures and races of this game remind of Warcraft III quite a bit, if you look back and compare the two games, you might be able to call Fantasy Wars marginally better looking, but definitely unoriginal. But with a 5 year head-start, you'd probably expect more.

Maybe sound is one of the few things about this game that didn't remind me of Warcraft in some way. No, nevermind, it did. But it is good music, nonetheless. The piece that plays between levels is pretty powerful, with orchestral music and a choir singing. During the game, music fades in and out. It's a good way to fight the monotony, but in-game music isn't that bad anyway. Characters are voiced by actors during story segments. They sound like they're just reading for the most part, but every once in a while there's a spirited performance.


Fantasy Wars has 3 different main campaigns, one of which is only selectable after unlocking. You can choose the human or orc campaign. It all smells a whole lot like other typical fantasy games. It's not like the orcs here take a new approach and decide to open an organic grocery. Nope, they're all bloodthirsty and power hungry, and humans bravely defend their thatched-roof cottages against these menaces, down to the last peasant. The storylines themselves are original: the son of a noble but poor family oddly has to make his living as a mercenary and an orc king decides to conquer everything and everyone around him for the love of war. Ok, scratch that last part about being original. Really, the problem is I don't get a sense of strong character building or big twists waiting around the corner like I did in Warcraft.. Then again, all some people want to know is "what do I get to fight next?" so story may not be so important here anyway.

This is a basic turn-based strategy game. Simple games can be fun, but basic, remember that word. At the heart of it, it's reminiscent of a game of Risk. You are given fighting units composed of soldiers or other types of fighting creatures. Before you send them off to battle, you can check to see what kind of damage you'll do to the enemy, as well as the amount of damage your unit will expect to take. Once you initiate a battle, those numbers may change. A unit that is expected to be weak may end up doing a bit more damage than you thought, or it may end up doing worse. The margin of difference isn't much, so there isn't a huge risk and reward system in place for the average attack.

There is more to it than that, thankfully. Terrain can add bonuses to unit stats, and offers movement disadvantages or advantages, depending on the unit. Pre-emptive attacks by enemies not directly involved in your fight can also turn the tables on you. You can also level up your fighting units and add Perks to them. Perks are minor abilities like extra defense, new abilities, or advantages on certain terrain. Units can be upgraded into stronger units at the end of each mission, if you have the cash. The good thing is they will retain their old Perks. The risk of losing good units that you have built up does add an element of danger.

Missions cannot be won with normal units alone. Sometimes a strong enemy will hole himself up in a fort, making any attempt by a normal unit to defeat him a long war of attrition. A Hero unit can usually come in and make a dent in things. Your main Hero cannot be killed or the mission is over, but these units are so valuable, you don't want to lose any of them.

As you've probably suspected by now, there's no resource-gathering, no building, no micro-management. For people who need to be able to get away from the game every few minutes, this may be a good point. Fewer things to keep track of means plans can be made a bit more spontaneously.

Multiplayer options will help extend the replay value of the game. You can even play a mode called Hotseat, which will let you play on one computer. You're going to need an opponent you can trust in this case, since it's the kind of game where peeking is cheating. With the online and LAN options, you're going to need to know some basic online connection information, so those expecting a click-and-play situation are going to be disappointed.


If you're a total newcomer to turn-based strategy games, or strategy games in general, Fantasy Wars will probably give you a hard time. There's no real tutorial, so you'll have to dive into the instruction manual to get started. If you have any kind of experience with these games, however, Fantasy Wars is a pretty mild ride. Even on Hard, enemies don't always go for the easiest kills, and you can get pretty lucky. A couple runs through a mission should be all you really need in most cases. The only major problem you'll run into is if you finish a campaign with heavy losses. You may end up not being able to afford enough troops to adequately finish the next campaign and you may end up needing to replay a previous mission in order to save enough troops.

Maps aren't overwhelmingly big, so it's pretty easy to keep track of things. The interface is fairly straightforward and helps to keep things from getting too confusing. The only thing that can be tough is keeping track of which unit has what strengths, but an explanation is only a right-click away.

Game Mechanics:

Fantasy Wars does play pretty well. It's not doing anything new in this department anyway, so you'd hope that it did. Basically, each unit gets a movement turn and an attack turn. You can attack and retreat, or charge in whatever order you like. Resting will deplete your unit's entire turn, and some units have extra movement turns.

Fantasy Wars does a good job of making the playing field fair. In general, you have to choose between the risk of standing your ground and the risk of attacking. When you've got things set up right, you can force enemies into traps or use the land to form defensive formations, and so on. You also need to consider other choices. There are advantages to recruiting over resting: both take up your movement turn, but resting is less likely to fully recover your unit whereas recruiting will fully replenish your unit. A disadvantage to recruiting is that you'll have less money left over for the next battle, so sometimes it doesn't pay to keep everyone healthy.

There were some minor annoyances here. For one, clicking on a unit for a certain action sometimes results in selecting a different unit, even if your cursor had a certain action highlighted already. It doesn't usually make anything happen, so you can easily go back to do what you wanted to do. It's just pretty annoying.

To bring things home, Fantasy Wars feels pretty derivative, but it plays pretty well regardless. If you don't mind the generic characters, and just want a simple turn-based strategy game, you'll find a pretty good time with Fantasy Wars. If you've already experienced more robust strategy games, you're going to want to wait until the price drops on this one.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP, 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or 1.5 GHz AMD Athlon 2000+ (2.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or 2.2 Ghz AMD Athlon 3500+ recommended), 512 MB (1 GB recommended), 3 GB Hard Disk space available, 8X Speed or faster DVD-ROM, 128 MB NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 or ATI Radeon 9600 (256 MB NVIDIA GeForce FX 6800 or ATI Radeon 850XT recommended), Direct X 9.0 compatible sound card

Test System:

Windows XP, 3.20 GigaHertz Intel Pentium 4, 4 GB Ram, RADEON X850, Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS

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