The manual for SpellCross opens with a real 'fire and brimstone' quote that sounds as if it's straight from an agitated 17th century evangelist: "God's Wrath doth fall upon us like an evil shadow. The last judgment is soon to be with us, when the very heavens will fall upon the unworthy and the earth will be consumed in fire."
After scaring us with that, the lengthy instruction manual then goes on to tell us of the ravaging of the Earth, the near destruction of humankind, and the last battle of the Alliance against the forces of darkness at the coming of the next millennium -- and I thought that this was just a game!
Maybe the somber mood of this title comes from the program's Eastern European roots. SpellCross is the result of a collaboration between Cauldron in Bratislava and JRC Interactive, the leading software developer in the Czech Republic.
In the game, as Alliance officer John Alexander, your job is to save the world (and earn promotions by doing so). The strategic part of the game lets you choose where to attack, which of your seventy troop divisions, tank units, air squadrons, heavy artillery, or elite infantry teams to deploy, and the direction of movement. After that has been planned, the tactical part of the game - or, as I like to call it, the "fun part" - begins and the actual battles take place. As you complete more and more of the game's 60 missions, you are promoted to higher ranks and your share of responsibility increases.
The gameplay is typical of turn based strategy games. You allocate resources and shoot, then the computer allocates and shoots, and so on. If you like strategy games with a wide array of scenarios, then you'll be familiar with this interface and probably enjoy it. Unfortunately, the range of options at any one time seems a little narrow.
Technically, the quality of the game is very high. The animation of the characters is smooth and the graphics good. But this is not one of those games that grabs your interest and refuses to let go. Still, if you really want to save the world and don't mind it being a lengthy, involved process, this game may be worth a try.
Graphics: Smooth scrolling of the characters
Sound: Very intense sounds of battle!
Enjoyment: Parts of the game can be labored.
Replay Value: Once you saved the world once, you've saved it a million times...
This turn-based C&C/X-Com hybrid puts you in command of an extensive array of modern-day sounding troops, needing to play battle after battle against the merciless hordes of fantastical creatures (orcs, elves, skeletons, etc.) in an attempt to save the world. As the game progresses your selection of troops increase and you, hopefully, gain rank and lead your troops into trickier and trickier battles. Only you can save mankind!
Spellcross is a fun but sadly-ignored turn-based fantasy/sci-fi strategy game that is well worth attention of both fans of Warhammer 40K: Final Liberation and Emperor of the Fading Suns. In this unique strategy game, you are John Alexander, a post-apocalyptic commander who must - you've guessed it - save the world. From game description at the official site: "... [the] game is split into two levels - strategic and tactical. In the strategic part, you decide on the most suitable territory for attack, the division of financial resources, the composition and organization of the army, and the direction of research. In the tactical part the actual battle within each territory takes place. During the battle, you have to allocate a specific number of action points per unit, for moving, attacking or other special activities." Games Domain says it all about this underrated gem that deserves their Silver Medal award:
"Spellcross deserves credit for balancing play, and (possibly unknowingly) setting standards for other games of its type to follow. Like Final Liberation, as each new sector falls under your control, resources are gathered from that newly acquired sector. However, the resources can only be exploited for a limited period of time, forcing the player not to play a defensive game but to gather a mountain of resources to whomp the enemy AI with. This also forces the player to critically consider where to expend the resources gathered before they run out.
The research portion of Spellcross is another aspect of this game that really surprised me. Along the lines of XCOM, research will open new units and technologies to choose from. In addition, Spellcross tweaks this aspect by adding the ability to modify existing units and give them better weapons and armor (as well as the ability to upgrade them into entirely new units). This aspect allows you the option of customizing certain units, making them that much more personalized. My Commandos are decked out with the full selection of weapons and armor. I also enjoyed other small touches like the ability to destroy, and walls within combat.
[In] many ways, it's the best turn-based sci-fi strategy game of its type. It has more depth and complexity than Fallen Haven... It was also much more engaging than both Deadlock and the sequel (the AI is much more aggressive and intelligent, too). Spellcross is more challenging than Final Liberation, with a better balance of resource management, more options, and again a much better and more aggressive AI. In fact, I can't think of a better game of this scope (Master of Orion and its ilk are on a different scale and style). Spellcross in many ways sets an example that other developers creating on this scale should look to...
Despite the few bumps in design (such as movement and save game implementation) and being DOS based Spellcross is a game worth our shiniest silver medal. In fact, Spellcross is the title gamers should look to when games like Deadlock 2, Fallen Haven or Final Liberation failed to meet expectations. Truly a great injustice considering US gamers will never see the title on their store shelves, and likely have to resort to overseas shipping to see this gem."
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