Aggro Me: Fantasy Wars
Turn-based strategy games are not exactly flooding the market, so I wanted to bring Fantasy Wars (available for purchase at GamersGate) to your attention.
I can't give a formal review because I haven't finished the game yet. Honestly, the only reason I'm posting about this one is that I haven't seen a single review or even advertisement for this game. I'm not quite sure how they expect to sell any copies.
What kind of name is "Fantasy Wars" anyway? Could you get more generic? Yeah, I was just playing some "Role Playing Game" and then "Platform Side-Scroller." But forget the name. It's basically a series of turn-based battles on a grid (though the field is a 3-D affair with fairly pretty graphics). You move your units, attack and defend against the enemy and take cities and other important areas. You also purchase new units, upgrade units and discover and equip artifacts.
Really, the game calls to mind Fantasy General, another game with a generic name and hex-based strategic play. It was a 1996 SSI release in the Five Star General series. Now, Fantasy General was one of the greatest games I've ever played and had a huge impact on me. The combination of compelling strategy, beautiful but simple art, incredible music and lengthy campaign were very memorable. I can close my eyes even now and I'm the Warlord Marcas, battling through the Vale of Sorrow, grimly resolute in the face of the Herculean task before me.
So I'm not comparing Fantasy Wars to Fantasy General in terms of overall quality. It pales in comparison. But that doesn't mean it's a bad game. The battles are exciting and there is plenty of depth and complexity. One of my favorite features is that when a unit levels, you can choose from a large branching tree of skills. So two units which start out the same may soon have quite different attack and defense skills. Some may be better in the forest and some on the open plains and still others may be experts at storming a city. The story is nothing special but the voiceovers are surprisingly not horrible. It is a challenging, fun campaign and I'm enjoying it so far.
I have noticed a few negatives. There are very few single mission scenarios included outside of the three large campaigns. The scenery looks a little too pretty and bright to me for a war game. And in general, when it comes to games like this, I prefer simplicity in the graphical design over bells and whistles. For instance, I much preferred the first three Heroes of Might and Magic Games to HOMM V because I liked the simple, clear map much better then the 3-D one. I hate having to constantly mess with the camera. But I'm pretty sure that's just me. I don't think most people will mind the graphics.
But don't take my word for it. Just download the free demo which contains two short missions and have at it. From the main page just click "Bonus" and it's on the left hand side of the page under wallpapers.
Another option to consider for your turn-based strategy fix is Dominion 3. I could wax poetic about the depth of this game but in this case there are already plenty of reviews out there for you.
And of course, no matter what genre you prefer, get Portal before any other game. Trust me on that one.