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Age of Wonders II: The Wizard's Throne

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Gathering
Developer: Triumph Studios
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Age of Wonders II are colorful and have hardly a dull moment. Despite the sprite based units and isometric view, the many different worlds have much depth. The scenery and locales are well done, but the spell effects alone will command the attention of most viewers. Units are well animated, and lack that cardboard cutout look.

Though the music isn't bad, it hardly helps out the graphics any. The tracks won't get on your nerves, but they don't really reach that level of greatness that other games' musical scores have achieved. The sound effects are the real shining achievement of this game's sonic atmosphere, bringing to life the strange inhabitants and spells of this fantasy world. In the end, the bells and whistles don't fail, but they could have been better.


Age of Wonders II is a turn-based strategy game with a strong emphasis on magic. The style follows closely to that of games like Heroes of Might and Magic IV, with the basic unit combat being heavily supported by spell casting.

The core of the game is based on the Campaign mode, where as the wizard Merlin, you must take on 14 other wizards in 20 different scenarios to claim the Wizard's Throne. To help you on your goal of conquest are a myriad of spells, champions, and units. These weapons aren't just handed to you, however. Resource management plays a big part in this game, with spells using up mana, and units costing gold.

Resources can be gotten from cities and other various locations on the map such as mines, gold piles, and magic nodes. These generators of income and mana must be defended if you are to keep up the pressure on your opponents, making you point a defensive eye not only towards your city, but also the surrounding area.

When two or more armies meet on the map, the screen changes to a close up view of their location, where each army must fight to the death in turn-based combat. Due to the hex shaped board of the world map, up to seven armies can participate in a battle at once. The only problem here is that once committed to a battle, you cannot make any attempt to retreat, forcing you to commit every unit in your army to the battle until they either win or die.

Other modes in the game include Scenario and Multiplayer modes, where you can choose your wizard, race, and magical affiliation and fight it out against up to 7 other wizards. The main goal of each map is the total annihilation of your enemy, but there are plenty of wizards and races to choose from, giving you a unique experience each time through.


Age of Wonders II is no walk in the park. The beginning tutorial only scratches the surface of the difficulties you will face later in the Campaign scenarios. The very beginning of the game has a steep learning curve, as there never seem to be any enemies that are true pushovers. Instead, you are faced with relentless assaults from early on in every mission, usually leaving you struggling for the upper hand later in the game. Though by no means unplayable, it could have done with some tuning down for earlier missions.

Game Mechanics:

As a turn-based strategy game, Age of Wonders II has only two states, which are both presented and controlled in much the same ways. When you are not locked up in combat, you get an isometric view of the world where you can move your armies around to the extent of their move allowances. Also, this is where city management and spell learning is taken care of through a number of easily navigable menus.

When two opposing armies meet, you are brought to the battle screen. The battle screen is also an isometric view, sort of a close up of the immediate area around the battling armies, and here you can see and control each individual unit of your force. Battles are also turn based, and each unit has a move allowance, much like each army on the world map.

With an option for simultaneous movement opposed to turn based, Age of Wonders II has plenty of variety for anyone willing to forge past its steep learning curve. Unless you are totally opposed to the genre and setting, this game is definitely worth a look.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:

300 MHz Processor, Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP,64 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, 500 MB Hard Disk Space, DirectX Compatible Sound and Video Cards

Test System:

Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows 4X4 Evolution 2 Windows Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated