Age of Wonders is a fun and entertaining turn-based strategy video game with the best elements of strategy, adventure and role playing from past games in the genre. Gamers who loved the interactive experience of popular games like Warlords and Master of Magic will love the months of strategic gaming this title can provide for entertainment hungry gamers.
Gamers who grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons have probably played every turn-based strategy game set on a stage of mythical creatures and magic. Age of Wonders is a fantasy-fix that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a world set in a universe that looks and feels like its straight out of Heroes of Might and Magic fame.
Go exploring in unknown lands filled with mythical beings, dangerous creatures and heroes of light and dark. Vanquish all who oppose you in battles to capture cities, shipyards, goldmines, farms and mana nodes to help feed your growing empire. Unearth ancient artifacts, unleash magical forces and discover the hidden secrets of a crumbling empire. Age of Wonders features 12 unique fantasy races, over 50 different heroes of dark and light with upgradeable abilities, a rainbow of spells and a multitude of unknown lands to explore. Age of Wonders is a game of conquest, requiring players to implement strategic and tactical skills to command armies in capturing vital locations and defeating enemies in a captivating single player campaign or battle against competitors in multi-player scenarios.
The Age of Wonders Story (3 out of 5)
Enter the Age of Wonders! An ancient age of peace entangled in the winds of chaos by the entrance of humans onto the stage of earth-history. Humans having been banished from Eden by the Lord, set sail into the mists of time, eventually coming ashore in the Valley of Storms, where the Eleven Court of Lord Inioch resides. The humans ravaged the Eleven Court with an unprovoked slaughter of peaceful souls, a time honoured human tactic, shattering a delicate balance between allies of dark and light that has existed for eons. The death of Lord Inioch splits the peace in two, plunging the land in the blood-red waters of chaos and death. You play as either the good and peaceful Keepers who want to learn to live in peace with the humans or the evil Cult of Storms, who prefer to welcome humans with a sharp sword.
The Good (5 out of 5)
Age of Wonders is a compilation of the best parts of many treasured games in the genre with enough depth in race, character development, and strategic combat and logistic management to provide a high level of entertainment.
The Bad (2 out of 5)
Age of Wonders suffers because of the lack of a random map generator, a feature that would give the gamer many more hours of strategic fun. The game isn’t really a challenge unless it’s set to the hardest difficulty setting. In the easier settings it’s too easy to just fortify all your towns and leave a token occupation force, because the AI has no idea what to do against a fortified wall. In addition, in the lower difficulty settings the AI won’t fortify his towns, which means it’s easy to just take his cities. Also, the designer appears to have taken the easy road to a solution in regards the lack of difficulty, by just out allowing the AI to cheat. Even after the patches the game still had problems in this area. The creators also increased the game’s difficulty by making many of the campaign missions exceedingly picky and difficult. The diplomacy screen is hard to use because the leader depictions used make it hard to tell what race you are trying to negotiate with, an important factor when trying to talk someone from sticking a length of steel into your gut.
Graphics (4 out of 5)
Visually, the game was amazing for its time – the trees, walls, rivers and oceans on the maps all look wonderful, while the unit and creature depictions are outstanding. Age of Wonders has two subterranean levels to explore that look beautiful and have been well rendered. About the only parts that appear to have been neglected a little would be the character depictions of the various leaders and the unit depictions on the main Heroes of Might and Magic type map. They appear to have been done by a different artist, who in my opinion did a less than top-notch job. All the art is hand drawn and has been beautifully created to immerse the gamer in a fantasy world and for the most part they pull this off.
Sounds of the Game (3 out of 5)
The music was consistent, if at times boring, but at least it generally matched the action occurring on the screen. Uninspiring, yes, but occasionally stirring and never out of place, which is better than a lot of games today.
Playability (4 out of 5)
Age of Wonders is a strategy game both enjoyable and entertaining, requiring resource management, tactical skill in both diplomacy and battle, and patience to defeat on its most difficult setting. The incorporation of two useful combat systems similar to those used in earlier strategy games in the same genre. A 2D battle grid reminiscent of Heroes of Might and Magic’s tactical battle map and a quick combat system comparable to SSG’s Warlords III: Darklords Rising, give Age of Wonders the entertainment and enjoyment level achieved by both. The maps and menus are all useful and easy to use and open and there is more than enough variety to keep you busy. Heroes and units in your army can gain experience and therefore skills and ability as you explore and conquer all who would oppose you. Age of Wonders contains 22 scenarios, two expanding campaigns and a map editor, which provide hours and hours of turn-based strategy gaming.
Replayability (3 out of 5)
Beyond the 22 scenarios and two campaigns, you won’t have much to look forward to with Age of Wonders. The lack of a true random map generator hits hard here, but you might be able to find player made maps to give you the Age of Wonders fix you need.
Conclusions (3 out of 5)
Gamers who like a good strategy game will like Age of Wonders as it incorporates the best part of many of the best games in the genre. Age of Wonders is fun, entertaining and enjoyable to play because of its overall polish and design and the creators should be acknowledge for taking the time to give the game the finish many games of the time, didn’t have. The hand drawn illustrations and care taken rendering the scenes and making sure the music matched the action make for a memorable experience. The one omission they made is a random map generator, which would have given this game just about everything a strategy game of the time could be expected to have for the gamer.
Developer: Triumph Studios in conjunction with Epic Games
Publisher: The Gathering of Developers in the USA and Take 2 Interactive in Europe
ESRB Rating: Teen
O/S: Windows (R) 95/98 or NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4.0
CPU: P166 MHz (P2-266 MHz recommended)
Memory: 32MB Ram
CD-ROM Drive: 4x Speed
Video Card: DirectX compatible, 16-bit color, 640×480 SVGA graphics, with support for resolutions up to 1280×1024
Sound Card: DirectX compatible
Available HD space: 350MB
Multiplayer: TCP/IP internet connection (for internet); Email account capable of attachments (for PBEM); TCP/IP or IPX (for network play)
Minimum suggested system requirements:
O/S: Windows (R) 95/98 or NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4.0
CPU: P2-266 MHz
RAM memory: 64MB
Available HD space: 500MB
Awards: PC Gamer Editor’s Choice award, Next Generation 5/5 star rating and 2003 Strategy Game of the Year
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