Warrior Kings

This award-winning port from Windows combines the god's-eye view of Black and White and the hero-figure storyline of WarCraft with real-life battle-unit behaviours. Gameplay feels like a mix between Myth and WarCraft. Multiplayer games are supported through GameRanger, but you need to learn the rules in the single-player version first. The minimum processor and memory requirements of the game are crucial. If your Mac is at or only slightly above these, then I must warn of slow game-play. On my test iBook, gameplay remained compelling, but I was frustrated by my Mac's performance when fine-tuning units in the battlefield. On an 800MHz iMac, gameplay and graphics were more fluid. The basic premise is familiar. You are in charge. You need to collect resources using peasants, and defend your position from regular attacks while building your forces. Eventually, you have to meet an objective. You get to use military might, your heroic special abilities, and alignment-specific magical units. The game is split into levels, and your alignment is determined by certain decisions taken as you progress. This means you can play the game three times, from one of three different perspectives - Pagan, Renaissance or Imperial. Pagans use earth magic, Imperial units use the power of God, and Renaissance units invent guns. That's the idea. Each has different strengths; different weaknesses. As a General, players must control supply routes and learn how to use troop formations. You don't launch your cavalry against a wall of spearmen, for example.


Even on the easy setting, you have to like a challenge to fully appreciate the game. Your enemies are smarter than you think, ready to outflank you while you try to get your idle peasants to work. And not only is gameplay set in a beautiful 3D environment, but terrain factors affect battle outcomes - just like in real life. On the downside, with Warrior Kings being such a challenging game, I was disappointed with the manual. A built-in help system is so much more useful in a game like this than an external one. There are special abilities and commands that need to be grasped, and these get more complex as the game progresses. You'll get used to saving to refer back to the manual.

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