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Etherlords II PC CD-ROM

Published by Deep Silver
Developed by
Nival Interactive
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

It's fair to say we've been very impressed with the games we've seen that have been developed by Nival Interactive. Etherlords, Blitzkrieg and of course the superb Silent Storm have all been developed by Nival Interactive and have all been great PC games in their own right. What we have here is the sequel to Etherlords, the strategy game where the battles play like a trading card game. Etherlords was one of those games that could appeal to a wide variety of gamers. Those who are interested in trading card games would certainly appreciate the duels and fans of turn-based strategy games would certainly have enjoyed the nature of the gameplay. It obviously must have been a success because here we have the sequel, Etherlords II.

The single player mode in Etherlords II offers a tutorial, two campaigns, and a duel mode where the action just concentrates on the trading card style battles, which is no bad thing as they are actually quite addictive. The campaigns are different from what you might have experienced in the first game because this time around you concentrate on just the one hero. As a result it feels more focused and I dare say more people will play them to the finish. The campaigns on offer are for the Vitals and the Chaots and both are actually enjoyable although they both are just lightweight stories with which to wrap the battles in, but as we've just said this is no bad thing as the battles are the heart and soul of the game. You'll be pleased to know that you can now take your heroes from one mission to the next so it feels worthwhile developing their skills. There are also a variety of duel modes such as blind mode and round table mode that you can play online too, although it's advisable to master the single player game first.

The battle system is practically the same as it was in the first game, which is certainly good news because it was the best part of the game. Each Hero doesn't actively take part in the battle but has a certain amount of spells that can be cast. The spells can be either creatures that can be summoned or enhancing spells that can improve your creatures or damage your rival or his/her/it's creatures. In Etherlords II, ether is used to enable all spells. You'll need sufficient ether to cast the spells (just like you'd need some kind of energy card to perform attacks in a trading card game).Combat is broken up into rounds. First you cast your spells and attack, if you can. Secondly your opponent will attempt to block your attack by bringing a creature to his defence. Your attack is then made. Thirdly the enemy will plot their attacks and finally you can try to block the enemy attack before the attack is carried out. This continues until one of the combatants is eliminated.

Graphically the game is practically identical to the first game. In all honesty though they haven't aged that well and look dated compared to other 3D strategy titles. The biggest problem is that they look bland. This wouldn't have been a problem had it been an expansion disk but for a game that is supposed to be a sequel it's disappointing to find that the graphics haven't been changed at all. The advantage of this though is that if you haven't upgraded your PC since you played Etherlords then you'll still be OK to play this sequel.

There are no problems for deaf gamers with Etherlords II. All conversations during the campaign mode are shown in text dialogue boxes that need to be closed before the conversation will continue. This means that you'll have as much time to read the dialogue as you want and can follow the story. There is also a tutorial mode which again is subtitled so you'll be able to learn the mechanics of the game too, which is always very welcome. Occasionally during a battle your characters will make the odd comment and these are not subtitled but this is not important and has no bearing on the gameplay.

Etherlords II is a solid sequel to what was an impressive title. The more focused campaigns are what fans of the original Etherlords will appreciate more than anything else and the duels are just as good as they were the first time around. It's a shame that the graphics haven't been updated but as we mentioned above if you're still using the same system that you were when you played Etherlords then you'll have no trouble is running the sequel and if you were a big fan of the original game this has to be welcome news. Fans of turn-based gameplay or trading card games would do well to give Etherlords II a go if they didn't get a chance to play the original game.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
As a sequel it's not drastically different from the original game but fans of Etherlords will appreciate the new, more focused campaigns.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems for deaf gamers.