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The Dark Saga


Blizzard Entertainment



Electronic Arts

1 Player

Game Type


Mem. Card

Review Date

August 1997


Setting the Scene

Electronic Arts in association with Blizzard Entertainment have combined to release Warcraft II. The Dark Saga is an enhanced version of WarCraft II and Beyond The Portal expansion pack.

WarCraft II is the continuation of the ruthless clash between the Orc and Human Civilizations. After the long and bloody war in the kingdom of Azeroth, the humans ventured across the Great Sea to escape the cruelty of the Orcish hordes and rebuild their empire. Eager to engage in combat again, the Orcish army constructed sea vessels and summoned flying creatures to follow the humans and attack their coastal encampment.


The game is a similar overhead strategy/ adventure game to Mindscape's Warhammer and bears more than a slight resemblance to Command & Conquer, while the Warcraft series will be known to PC gamers who have enjoyed it's challenging gameplay for a number of years.

As the commander of either the Orc or the Human forces, players must successfully construct and rule their medieval empire while engaging in real-time tactical warfare over land and sea in an action strategy game that is set in a medieval fantasy world. Over 52 missions are included spread over four complete campaigns and based on over 100 customizable maps.


Warcraft II is embellished with six new FMV clips that set the scene and enrich the atmosphere.

The game is viewed from a top down ¾ perspective that allows you to easily watch over your growing forces. Each of your troops are clearly defined which allows individual selection a relatively simple process. The Human Alliance wear the colors of blue and gold while the Orcish Hordes are predominantly green but appear to be a mismatched bunch of societies misfits.

There are four types of battleground terrain which are a dense forest setting, a snowy winterland, a barren wasteland and a swamp. Each is rich in color and extremely well animated.

Sounds and Effects

Each of your troops have a distinguishable sound to allow you to determine who is presently under you command. Swordsmen acknowledge with "Yes, Sir!" and "Okay Boss", ships respond with an "Ahoy there Matey" while Troll Axethrowers are a little more direct with their "Who d'ya wanna kill?" If any of your troops are ambushed you will be warned with cries of "We're being attacked".

In the heat of battle the distinct sounds of steel clashing reigns over a collection of battle cries. Axes, when thrown, can be heard cutting through the air before cries of pain announce their sudden arrival. Giant Ogres prefer to enter into hand to hand combat and the sound of their fists can be heard pounding on an unsuspecting head.

Each sound effect contributes so much to the atmosphere of Warcraft II and the whole package is completed with an excellent selection of battle tunes wrapped around the action. If you prefer to concentrate on your task in silence then each sound effect may be reduced to your liking at the options screen.


For those who did not experience Warcraft on the PC or for some inexcusable reason have not cast your eyes over the brilliant C&C on PSX, then I will give you a brief description on how to play. Those who have, and enjoyed, need read no further. Warcraft II is an essential addition to your collection.

The idea behind the game is to first develope wealth, which in turn allows you to increase your training facilities. Better training facilities offer you more skillful and stronger troops. Once your base is constructed and secure, you must devise a plan of attack. Manoeuvre your men across the terrain searching for your main objective which is described at a mission briefing before you commence. Sound simple? Actually it is, and Blizzard have made the game very easy to play. Amazingly every action and motion is controlled by a couple of face buttons on the joypad.

The Options
The first decision you must make is whether to play a Campaign or a Scenario.
Campaign is divided into 'Tides of Darkness' for new players or 'The Dark Portal' for seasoned campaigners. Both allow you to take the side of the Orcish Hordes or the Human Alliance.
Scenario offers the player two further choices to play the game. 'Custom' allows you to set the difficulty faction by adjusting units, resources, number of opponents and terrain setting.
'Select Scenario' allows you to decide on the magnitude of the playing area from a choice of five sizes. Each terrain size offers a further five themes for play. 32x32 allows you to battle on a football pitch where the two teams of equal numbers face each other in a fight to the death. How about a game of killer chess? A checkered board with 8 infantry for pawns backed up by an assortment of cavalry, catapults and axe throwers. 128x128 is the largest playing area and offers tasks such as bridge to bridge combat and a challenging battle with the odds of 3-to-5 ratio in flavor of the enemy.

The In-game Options
During play an in-game option screen allows you to make minor adjustments to the game settings. The speed of your cursor may be increased, as can the rate that the game plays. This is an excellent idea which allows you to boost the speed that your troops can construct buildings and then slowed down when you are moving in on the enemy. A word of warning, with the speed setting on high you become susceptible to high speed raids from the enemy.

If at any point during the game you become confused with play, check out the 36 available tips in the sub-menu.

Levels may be saved by recording a given password, while a memory card allows you to save your progress at any point during a mission. This facility allows novices to build up their forces and then save the game prior to attacking the enemy. If events go drastically wrong you may restart from the saved point and adjust your plan of attack.

Preparation for War
Select a new campaign and load up your first mission from Tides of Darkness. Similar to C&C most of the terrain is blacked out and is only revealed when your troops advance. The cursor is moved across the screen and your Peon worker is chosen. He will acknowledge your selection and a health bar will be displayed below him. Setting him to work is a simple process - point and click. Once he has been set a task he will continue until a new command is issued.

Peon workers have three essential chores - Finance, Timber and Food. To acquire wealth they must collect gold from mines. Trees must be chopped to provide wood which is used to construct weapons, watch towers and ships. Pig farms are needed to feed the troops and workers. All three raw materials are required to allow Peon workers to construct buildings such as Barracks where the troops are trained, Shipyards where the boats are built and a Fortress where the materials are stored. Within a few minutes the barren landscape will be alive with activity. Workers scurrying back and forth, troops patrolling the encampment, watchtowers scanning the horizon. Eventually you will acquire enough wealth to provide airships to rule the skies and a fleet of ships to dominate the seas. Wealth may also be developed from the ocean as platforms may be constructed over oil slicks and ferried back to your base. Sort of a Sim City prepares for war.

Let Battle Commence
While constructing your base you must always remain alert because the enemy will constantly attempt to disrupt your progress with rapid attacks. Many times did I send out a scouting party only to return to see my base engulfed in flames with bodies strewn all around. The enemy is best attacked with a small selection of differing troops rather than a mass similar soldiers. Swordsmen and Ogres to the front, Axethrowers and Archers behind and Catapults to the rear. The Swordsmen will fight their way through the front line while protected by the axes and arrows raining down on the enemy. Catapults are slow and have little armor but can destroy almost anything from about twenty feet.

When raging war at sea you must always include an airship in your armada to spot hiding submarines. Okay, submarines in the middle ages may sound a little far fetched but they certainly add to the gameplay, so who cares?

The Outcome
Victory is announced when your mission has been carried out successfully. Defeat will be ridiculed and you must suffer the embarrassment of replaying the same level once again. Your leadership will be marked accordingly on the scoreboard at the end of each level.

Value for Money

As I mentioned earlier, if you enjoyed Command & Conquer then Warcraft II will offer you a fresh challenge and many months of gripping battleplay. If your new to strategic war games then Warcraft II offers a gentle learning curve and addictive gameplay. Unfortunately this game is not link compatible as previously thought.





So is Warcraft II better than Command & Conquer? Let's just say it is different, in as much as Soul Edge was to Tekken 2. Instead of bombs and bullets you have hand to hand combat and flying arrows, although later in the game you may cast the odd fireball spell.It is a much easier game to pick up and play with it's intuitive control system and gentle learning curve. All in all a very good strategy game that stands up tall in it's own right.











Warcraft is an excellent game with enough variety to keep you busy for a long, long time. Anyone who enjoyed playing Command and Conquer is sure to love this game.








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