If ever a certain genre has ever dominated a certain gaming system, it’s very easy to make the case for strategy games dominating the PC. Ever since the very early days of PC gaming, strategy games have been a mainstay of the mouse and keyboard; they really took off in the mid-90s with hits like Command & Conquer and Warcraft. Nowadays these types of games are a dime a dozen; actually getting your hands on one that’s (gasp!) fun can be a real challenge.
Luckily Warlock II: The Exiled is just that: a fun, deep, and engrossing strategy game that you can really get into if you decide to put the time into it. The game plays a lot like strategy-king Civilization; the battlefield is divided in hex-shaped sections, and you can (usually) only interact with opposite hexes. The big difference is that instead of playing in one large world, the gameplay map is divided into different worlds, each with its own attributes and strategies to exploit.
These strategies can range from constructing different types of cities to either contribute to your overall mana pool, to your population, to your army, or to your war chest in the form of taxes. All these attributes make up the resources that you will need to exploit to dominate your foes. However, if military domination isn’t your cup of tea, you can also try your hand at economic or political domination as well.
Each side also benefits from having in their employ a powerful mage, cleric, or warlock. These special characters have the ability to cast magic onto the battlefield itself. This magic can range from offensive to defensive, healing, or even to terrain altering, and plays a big role into determining your overall strategy for the upcoming conflict. All in all, Warlock II does a good job of giving you varied options for victory – if only victory wasn’t so far away.
You see, Warlock II is a very, very, VERY slow-paced game, be it in part from the slow to decide AI, the slow movement pace, or the slow-to-harvest resources (I said slow already, right?). The game tries to shake things up by throwing quests at you to keep you on your toes and keep you thinking; while this be a really nice feature, some of these quests can’t be turned down, which can force you to completely change your hard-thought-out strategies.
Visually, Warlock II: The Exiled is quite a pleasing game. The environments are brimming with life, the character models are detailed and sharp, and the game is surprisingly colorful (most strategy games tend to run the palette from brown to gray). However, my one bone to pick would be with how much the game takes from other mediums to create its cast. A gray-bearded wizard? A lich-king? Tolkien might have a word or two about that.
For $29.99 (a bit more for the special editions), you can get your hands on a pretty solid strategy game that’s really easy to sink hours into (which is really the mark of a great strategy game). You also get access to a pretty robust level editor which allows you to create and mold the world of Warlock II exactly how you want. One downside, though, is that the game doesn’t (really) feature a story mode – it’s just random skirmishes within the world. At least it’s fun, though.
It’s often hard for new strategy-focused games to catch the eye of PC gamers, but hopefully Warlock II: The Exiled does. The game delivers some pretty novel and interesting strategy-based gameplay, and while it sure does take it’s time to show you all its bells and whistles, you’ll be happy to have snuck a peak.
This review is based on a digital copy of Warlock II: The Exiled for PC provided to 3GEM by the publisher.