Spellforce 2 in the test - a masterpiece and genre mix of strategy and role play
Hero-Junior, clean up your room! "Prompt answer:" Immediately, Papa Dragon! Should I sort the magic books by author or date of publication? ”Logical: If the legal guardian measures ten meters and breathes fire, it is better to save the disobedience for school. So in Spellforce 2 you also fulfill another wish of your scaly adoptive father: You should accompany a very pretty dark elf named Schattenlied to the capital of the people. Finally, she must warn the king of an invasion of bloodthirsty shadow creatures. About 20 hours later you have gained two important insights: On the one hand, that there is much more to the mission than just a rude monster invasion. On the other hand, that you are really looking forward to the next 40 hours in the fantasy world Eo. Because Spellforce 2 not only does everything better than its predecessor, it also delivers more campaigns than Age of Empires 3, Battle for Middle-earth 2 and Empire at War combined!
Hundreds of adventures
On your journey with Schattenlied you will visit 20 beautiful and especially huge islands. In Spellforce 2, your hero needs three minutes to cross the capital Siebenburg directly.
However, you can mostly forget about direct paths, after all, a nasty monster, treasure or client could be waiting around every corner for the 61 main and 62 side missions. As in the predecessor, the RPG and real-time strategy elements are roughly in balance, but are much more logically linked. In order to win the dwarves for your cause, you have to defeat an ice witch. Their castle is located in an inaccessible mountain range. And the only way to get there is through a dwarven mine made of the finest Moria design, in classic role-playing style - complete with caged beauty, little switch puzzles, hidden treasures and an undead magician. Once in the mountains it becomes strategic: you break through the enemy siege of a human base, build your own base there, unite your army with that of the dwarf king and finally defeat the ice witch in a massive final battle. With Spellforce 2, all of this takes place on the same island without loading breaks.
After you have united humans, dwarves and elves in the army of the covenant, later in the campaign you will also lead the army of the clan (orcs and trolls) and even the troops of the pact (night elves and shadows). Beautiful cut scenes in game graphics tell the exciting and amazingly cliché-free story of your change of front. Only the mediocre voice output tears you out of the harmonious fantasy atmosphere of Spellforce 2 from time to time: Too many dialogues are emphasized in an amateur way and appear listlessly read.
A hero is seldom left alone
Those who have exciting adventures naturally want to share their experiences. In the course of the story of Spellforce 2 you will be joined by five other heroes, such as your brother and melee specialist Bor and elementalist Shae. If you do not agree with your colleagues' career choice, you can implement your own ideas after each level up. Because for each level you receive one skill point for yourself and each hero character, which you can use either in the combat or in the magic talent tree. In the former, you unlock skills such as heavy armor or longbows, while the latter attracts with specializations in fire magic or demonology.
The talents also determine which weapons, armor and wands the heroes can put on. The developer Phenomic designed 480 items by hand as rewards for defeated bosses or completed missions. In addition, the game distributes thousands of randomly generated items to monsters and treasure chests. And the collecting addiction kicks in immediately, you want to explore every last corner. Because maybe a mighty war hammer is waiting for Bor right there! You sell junk at the nearest dealer and get the last pieces of gold for the new magician's robe.
In the predecessor of Spellforce 2 , the busy character maintenance still disrupted the flow of the game, which is now prevented by intelligent comfort functions: You can sort your inventory at the touch of a mouse, let the computer do the talent distribution or teleport to the next marketplace.
Rising from the Ruins
In a fight with 50 bad-tempered orcs, no matter how good the hero equipment is, you will only survive with a cleverly assembled escort army.
The three factions of Spellforce 2 do not differ as much as in WarCraft 3, but they still have a few special tricks up their sleeves that you need to know and use, especially in multiplayer games. The elven druids of the covenant automatically heal troubled units. The clan's berserkers hypnotize enemies for a few seconds and are almost immune to magic. And the Pact's necromancer sends fallen units back to the battlefield as skeletons. The undisputed stars of each faction, however, are the nameless titans: The knight-, balrog- and alien-like giants not only look fantastic, but also have devastating area spells in store and single-handedly take on an entire army. In fairness, each player may only summon such a being once.
A Titan destroys a huge pile of enemies on the one hand, but also a huge pile of your raw material savings on the other. You can only train powerful armies with a smoothly functioning base.
Phenomic has significantly reduced the basic structure of Spellforce 2 compared to its predecessor: Instead of six resources, you only have to mine three: stones for buildings, silver for soldiers, the Lenya plant for magical units. The 14 building types of each faction correspond to the genre conventions. A smelter shortens the way your workers walk to the silver deposit, farms increase the unit limit, and the breeding of soldiers is handled by a castle (Bund), field camp (clan) or a combat school (Pact). That's it with the training measures - Phenomic did without upgrades (e.g. for more damage or new skills). Small disadvantage of the slimmed-down basic building: Strategic finesse is missing, usually you always run the same building sequence. Big advantage, especially in multiplayer games: It gets down to business immediately, after ten minutes at the latest you will have fully expanded your base. Spellforce Heroes. Here the basic building (20%).
Equal opportunity for everyone
In the predecessor of Spellforce 2 , basic building was your only problem - the AI was allowed to produce endless units until you destroyed the corresponding respawn building. Forgive and forget: Both in the campaign and in the skirmish mode, the computer opponent has to cut resources, erect buildings and train costly units. Accordingly, the real-time battles are now playing much more fair and understandable. Nevertheless, you can look forward to tough resistance: The AI is basically in the majority, attacks early and specifically attacks important units such as your healers. However, she usually chooses the same attack route - stupid!
You can read the complete test of Spellforce 2 in GameStar issue 05/2006 or online as a pdf in the magazine archive.