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Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria PC CD-ROM

Published by Mastertronic
Developed by Infinite Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £9.99

The Warlords series has been around for many years now. My first experience of the series was Warlords III: Darklords Rising and even then I picked it up for a measly sum of £5 from a bargain bin in a local game store. Despite the ridiculously low price though it turned out to be a great turn-based strategy game. I was surprised when the next game in the series, Warlords Battlecry turned out to be a RTS. I downloaded the demo only to find that I didn't like it and have since ignored the Warlords series. Thankfully the series returned to its turn-based roots in 2003 with Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria.

Those of you who know all about the Warlords series will know that it's a blend of RPG and strategy. When you begin a campaign you'll create a Warlord who you will keep throughout the game and they will gain experience and level-up so it pays to keep them alive and it makes the whole thing more interesting. As well as the campaign you also have 28 skirmish maps and a random map generator to bulk out the single player options. Those looking for multiplayer thrills will be pleased to learn that TCP/IP, IPX LAN, Ubi.com, Hotseat and Play by E-mail modes are all supported which you have to admit is pretty impressive.

Whilst Warlords IV is essentially a good game it does nothing that makes it feel special. You have 10 different races and 60 units overall with a variety of magic spells at your disposal. The AI seems good too and puts up a decent fight. However the battles are mundane picking one band of units at a time to fight against a band of the enemies units. City micro-management is really just a case of ordering units to be built and little else, which is slightly tedious. Some units and attacks seem far too strong and there doesn't appear to be a way to pull out of a battle, meaning that if you make the wrong choice in attacking a stronger enemy you'll lose all of your units in that group which can be frustrating.

Darklords Rising was a top-down 2D affair; it was released in the late 1990's after all. That said however, Warlords IV doesn't look as good as you would expect for a game that was developed several years later. The graphics are still mostly 2D and even the cutscenes use sketches and other still images instead of full-motion video. The units look far too simplistic and the buildings look like images that have been cut and pasted from an older title. The battle view is also far too basic and looks like it came from a 6 year old game. Whilst the look of the game is disappointing the benefit of all this simplicity of course is that the game will run on a low end system with a Pentium II 450 being quoted as the minimum CPU you'll need for Warlords IV.

If you're interested in Warlords IV you'll be pleased to learn that the game is deaf gamer friendly. The cutscenes are subtitled and all the tutorial messages you receive are in text too which is excellent. Any events that occur during a scenario are relayed via text only, so once again you'll have no problems. With such good support for deaf gamers it's just a shame the game wasn't actually a turn-based strategy game to remember.

Warlords IV left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand the game is quite enjoyable to play which of course is a good thing but on the other hand it doesn't feel as complete a game as Darklords Rising and that is a disappointment. If you're looking for a fantasy turn-based strategy title then Warlords IV is definitely worth a look (and £9.99 is certainly more appropriate than it's original £29.99 price tag) but it's by no means the game it could have been. Had Darklords Rising still been available for purchase I would recommend it over this without hesitation.


Overall Game Rating: 2.5/5

Warlords IV is ultimately disappointing and it's no surprise that it's already being released as a budget title. It's not a disaster by any means but there are better titles in the genre more worthy of your money.

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

No problems at all as what speech there is, is subtitled.