Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Warcraft II - When Blizzard Didn't Suck!

Warcraft is known mostly for World of Warcraft now days, and even that is starting to whither away into a much more condensed audience (dispite Activision's underhanded efforts). There was a time, dear readers, when Warcraft was known for more than an MMORPG. There was a time when Blizzard was young and actually had to program entire games in order to stay afloat. Warcraft was created in the vain of Warhammer, and was a Real Time Strategy game where humans fight orcs in a fantasy map setting. The game was a gigantic hit, obviously, and brought about its own fanbase and its own lore that seemed to have no roof to how much people ate it up. 

Warcraft II was a natural progression of this idea. Not only did it up the graphics, but it also upped the ante when it came to gameplay and internet accessibility. Well, we're not going to go into the multiplayer because the Sega Saturn didn't cover that, but we will be going into a lot of the different changes between the first and second game. 

First and foremost, the number of different units has taken steroids with how many there are and how much they affect the gameplay. From the human knights to the orc's ogres, they ramp up the gameplay to a new level to make you strive to keep your buildings up. They upgraded all of the magic, making it a real component to the game's mechanics and they add in one of my favorites, the Death Knights. Paladins are good, Ogre Mages are great, Death Knights are AWESOME! 

Warcraft II was ported to both Sega Saturn and Playstation in its upgraded form, meaning it had the expansion pack built in. To say this was a gift would be an understatement because with both the orc and human campaigns, that means tons of extra gameplay! This was the only Warcraft game to be ported to consoles and somehow we were lucky enough to get a Saturn port. How fortunate. Now, was it a perfect port? No, it definitely didn't outshine the PC original. It was worth playing the Sega Saturn port, for sure, but it also came with its own little niggles. 

As stated before in my other reviews, a controller will never replace the mouse. A controller with a D-pad is harder to control and trying to catch some of these quick little sprites with your controller cursor can be rough. That's just unavoidable. There's also that strange interface where the square pops up beside the unit you click on. It takes some getting used to, to say the least. You need to do a few practice levels to get started, and with how easy the first few levels are, there's plenty of opportunity to do so. 

The graphics also take a downgrade, but it's not as bad as it could be. The framerates are still fine unless you go crazy with the units on the screen, because there can be a lot. In fact, there can be even more than before, but we'll get into that later. Sadly, there's also a loss of voice clips. One thing people love is the ability to click on units relentlessly to get some comedic voice prompts from them. Here, their comedic lines are cut down extensively. What a shame.

Then, we can get into a few shortcomings from the game itself. I know it may be a hot take, but there really shouldn't have been water combat/mechanics. The ship building and the transporting ground units shouldn't have been so prominent in the gameplay because it slows down the pace so terribly bad. It's adding a middle man where they shouldn't have added a middle man. It really should have been just ground units and MAYBE the air units. It's a good thing they learned their lesson about the water combat in Warcraft III, because it was a definite improvement on that front. The air units, though, they didn't go anywhere. 

Aside from the noncombatant air units, there are the dragons and the griffons. Watch out when these things come into the battle. Their damage is meant to take down buildings and multiple units at a time. With these guys on the screen, plus a full ground troop battle, it can make the screen frames chug at a tiresome rate. The good news is that these airtroops take out the middle man of creating water craft and it sinks them within seconds! Of course, results may vary depending on the circumstances, don't take my word for it. 

This is a great way to enjoy the arguably greatest RTS game ever made, on they greatest system ever made. Warcraft III was great in its own right (until Blizzard screwed it up, of course) but Warcraft II has the best balance of both strategy and unit mass creation. You can play this game in both campaign and custom campaign for hours upon hours of fun. It has its flaws but what game doesn't? Do not count this port out, do not forget when Blizzard didn't suck and Activision wasn't siphoning our cash into their micro transaction Scrooge McDuck vault. This is Warcraft in its purest form and it is definitely something you can grind your axe on.

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