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Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf is an update to the original Battle Realms game, and as such it not only includes the original game CD and manual, but also the expansion CD with a PDF manual. Since it is an expansion, the graphics haven't been updated at all, and even though the animation is excellent, the graphics overall are quite dated.

The expansion's campaign includes new terrain and unit types, and they look sharp, especially at the game's maximum resolution of 1024x768. Sound effects are well done, but voiceovers are often stilted.

Cut scenes are used to good effect in the campaigns, and are all created using the game engine. Music sets the mood well, and fits with the asian theme. Even the user interface fits well with the game's theme, and is very slickly produced. The only negative thing one can say about Winter of the Wolf's graphics and sound is they just aren't up the standards similar games currently available offer.


Unlike many other real-time strategy games, Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf mixes up game play by building up the action slowly, introducing gaming elements little by little, inching along the story, and eventually presenting you with a frantically paced multi-unit extravaganza. For those ready to just dive in, the pace may actually be too slow, but it's an interesting change of pace compared to similar games that don't ever let up on the action.

For the Winter of the Wolf campaign, your lead unit, Grayback, is actually imprisoned by two competing clans. He must complete a number of superfluous errands before rising up to fight the clans and escape. From there, the action escalates, and combat becomes quite frenetic.

The 11-mission campaign is scripted pretty tightly, which means it doesn't really provide much freedom in the way things play out. Initially, missions require either Grayback alone, or with a single companion, to fight a few spiders or break up some shale. Later, Grayback and this same companion must free ten other prisoners. Occasionally, only Grayback must fight a single enemy. All in all, the scripted missions just restrict the game play, limiting the flow of action, and instead of providing tension or back story, they make for a boring adventure.


The game provides three difficulty levels, and at the easiest setting the game is not overly difficult. The most difficult aspect of Winter of the Wolf's game play, though, is manipulating and controlling units. A single unit isn't hard to control, but once you have five or more units, it is very difficult to just select a few out of what ends up being a major jumble of fighting units, and this limits your tactics considerably.

Game Mechanics:

Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf's user interface is sparse, providing only the essential tools necessary to control your units and resources. Often, you'll wish for more control, like ways to group units together, or ways to pull units with failing health easily out of the action.

The various screens used to get into the game, change settings or save and load games is excellent, with cleverly animated menus, bright colors, and easy to understand labels. Ubi Soft provides great documentation with the game, and the Battle Realms web site offers FAQs, Q&A sections, and other information on single player and multiplayer game play.

Overall, Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf is a stylish and fun game. Unfortunately, its graphics engine is quite dated, its scripted story is a bit too tight, and its user interface doesn't provide players with enough control. If you have the original game and want to get the new campaign, then this is a pretty good bargain, but if you are looking for something new with better graphics and with updated game play, then you're better off looking elsewhere.

-Gordy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Gary Lucero

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 400MHz Celeron, 64MB RAM, DirectX 7 compliant 16MB 3D AGP video card, DirectX 7 compliant sound card, 32x DVD-ROM.

Test System:

Windows XP Home, 2 GHz Pentium 4, 256MB RAM, GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/64MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live! Value, 32x DVD-ROM.

Windows Arx Fatalis Windows Sid Meier's Civilization III

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated