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The darkness rise
The original Battle Mages was a pretty solid piece of fantasy real-time strategy gaming that provided some interest for fans of things like Warcraft. Sign of Darkness is a standalone expansion which is basically the same in terms of mechanics as the base game but which brings in some new campaigns which shed further light upon the world created here. As such, if you enjoyed the original and are looking for more of the same, then this is definitely worth picking up. Otherwise, you can probably skip it. The story here is set some time before the events of the original and tells how the four races, orcs, elves, humans, and dwarfs, split apart and fought each other, and which leads neatly into the first game. The essential gameplay is similar to before, with the player controlling a soul ghost which allows you to control units on the battlefield, with a number of quests to complete and which allow for your units to be upgraded in RPG fashion. There's also the expected magic spells and other such trappings of the fantasy genre. Sign of Darkness is basically the same as its predecessor, with all its good points and its faults. The gameplay itself is generally quite enjoyable, being challenging and varied with a lot to keep track of. The story too is quite interesting, with the separate campaigns all coming together nicely and expanding on the lore. The visuals are also good, with some nicely detailed environments and units, lots of slick effects and with the interface being intuitive and responsive. So, a good choice for series veterans, but perhaps not for others.