SpellForce - The Order of Dawn Review

We join the order of dawn

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 19th July 2004

SpellForce - The Order of Dawn

  • Developer: Phenomic
  • Publisher: Bigben
  • Release Date: 28th November 2003

Everyone has their favourite kind of game and for me it has to be a real-time strategy game that requires you to create a small society of men, workers and soldiers and have them gather recourses and build a base ready to take on future enemies. Coming up a close second is the RPG which gives you a hero to develop whilst sending him or her through dangerous worlds killing bad guys and completing quests. Amazingly, SpellForce: Order of Dawn combines these two gaming classics perfectly and delivers a strategic, base building action adventure.

The core of the game involves you creating a hero whom will in turn lead your armies into battle against a dark force which is about to wreck havoc upon the world. First things first, you must create your hero in which the hopes of the land rest on. The game gives you the option to change your characters gender, head and body as well as create combat specialities from various weapons to magic. As you might expect there is also a points system which allows players to assign points to various attributes of your characters profile and more can be added as points are earned throughout the game.

Once you create your hero you are treated to an inescapable tutorial which is nicely set out and useful but also extremely long and the option to skip it would’ve been nice. So, you place your hero into the world of SpellForce and the action begins, you start off as a lonesome warrior with a quest in hand and a long journey to adhere to. The first thing I noticed was the camera which is one of the best I have come across in a game like this, basically, by using the scroll button you can zoom in or out on your character and even change to a 3rd person perspective changing the controls to “adventure style” arrow buttons on the keyboard rather than the point and click style of the mouse.

The gaming world itself is filled with many non-playable characters which can sometimes offer you sub-quest or information as well as the Merchants which offer trade. The important characters are highlighted with an explanation mark above their heads ensuring that you don’t waste your time talking to “extras” if you just wish to stick to the quest in hand. The games saving method comes in the form of “Brine stones”, these are huge rocks placed around the map which, when activated becomes your last saving point and they also act in a similar way to portals meaning you can travel between brine stones making your journeys a whole lot shorter!

One of the most important objects in the gaming world however are monuments, these structures are used to summon new heroes to your group as well as workers for the building and resource collecting, various military units and spiritual figures. Like any base building game, the idea is to set up a base of operations which includes a head quarters, resource buildings such as a stone mine and food store and woodcutters store for the tree chopping and plans for other races buildings can also be discovered broadening your building catalogue.

As well as constructing buildings belonging to other races you are also able to recruit members of the other 5 races into your society including Orcs, Trolls, Dwarves, Dark Elves and Elves. Naturally all races have their unique strengths and weaknesses for instance Dwarves are good with hand to hand combat whereas Elves thrive with long distance weapons.

SpellForce takes place in a fully 3D world filled with forests, streams, mountains and wildlife, whilst all nicely detailed however, this lush environmental setting comes at a price and more often than not the game will struggle to run properly and is prone to pauses and complete crashes. Loading times are also a little on the long side but cut-scenes are very nicely presented and worth waiting for. The overall layout of the game is presented nicely with an easy to use inventory system housing your character profiles, spell book and other valuable assets. An action bar along the bottom of the screen makes task setting a breeze whilst picking up objects becomes a simple matter of clicking the picture of the item you have found at the side of the screen. Audio in the game is nicely created and fitting with an orchestral soundtrack and the usual “I’m on to it” cries from the various characters you control.

What makes this game a winner for me is the fact that it combines two of my favourite genres brilliantly and manages to achieve the best of both? Controls are nicely set out and easy to use whilst actual gameplay is addictive and long lasting. It’s a shame that the multiplayer mode is a little inactive at the moment but the single player campaign can hold its own and any fan of RPG’s or strategy games should give it a go.

Review Score: 7.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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