If you are looking for a real time strategy/combat game with extremely smart AI routines and lots of fighting, Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat is right up your alley. Encompassing elements of other genres such as adventuring and role-playing, the game's real strength lies in the wonderful storyline that is fleshed out during game play and the method in which the designers reveal the story through linkage of the scenarios. Not a role-playing game in the standard sense of the term, the mercenary commander you control builds his armies through conquest of enemies and plain old bribery (paying mercenaries with gold). During the game you'll need to acquire huge sums of gold for this purpose and much of the game focuses on mini-quests that garner additional gold or combat in which the spoils go the victor (hopefully you). There are various levels of magic expertise your wizards can attain and individual troop units can acquire different levels of armor and weaponry combinations.
Combat is conducted in a 3D environment and is firmly based in real time. Perspective can be altered through an adjustable angled camera view that utilizes incredibly functional zoom and directional viewpoint techniques. The learning curve is made more difficult than usual because of the absolutely mind-boggling number of command control buttons integrated into a staggering number of menus. However, once learned, game play moves forward at a nice pace with solid control of the tactical movements of your units. Much of the in-between battles action is from a 2D perspective and the game features more than two dozen story enhancing animations and individual mission briefings.
Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat does have a few minor flaws but nothing major enough to detract from the enjoyment of playing the game. For example, there are no adjustable difficulty levels available which simply means your mercenary troops had better be prepared when they engage in battle. Save often, especially before battle since you'll probably need to replay the tough ones many times to succeed. The AI is tough, intuitive and mean when it comes to battle and, therefore, a terrific asset to expert gamers looking for a rugged fight. In the heat of battle, individual units can actually defy your orders because of (presumed) bloodlust and cause havoc in your well designed strategic plans.
The Warhammer universe is enriched by the sheer number of races and creatures that inhabit the Old World and although the story is one of age old conflict between ultimate good (the Empire) and the ravages of evil (Chaos), the story is revealed in a tantalizing manner that keeps you coming back for more to see where it's all headed. The plot is somewhat complex and the game contains quite a number of surprises as you adventure and fight your way to victory. The integration of these two aspects is seamless and extremely well done with the ultimate objective of a confrontation with the Horned Rat looming ahead at all times. This one is a keeper.
Graphics: Well defined individual troop caricatures and colors. Interesting animation cut scenes and very detailed 3D and 2D artwork. Colorful game world.
Sound: Nicely done sound effects (dying screams, clashing of armor and weapons, rallying trumpet calls, etc.). Music is appropriate for the mood and environment of the game.
Enjoyment: Lots of scenarios, an extremely tough AI opponent, a terrifically developed story and good game play once the interface has been mastered. Good strategic and tactical situations.
Replay Value: Higher than normal in a game like this because of the various possibilities available in the building of your army and because the game is fun to play.
People who downloaded Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat have also downloaded:
Warhammer: Dark Omen, Warhammer Epic 40000: Final Liberation, Warhammer 40000: Chaos Gate, Warhammer 40000: Rites of War, Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, Warcraft 2, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos
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