SpellForce: The Order of Dawn

RPG 2003 Windows Encore Medieval Strategy

Top notch blend of genres

This is the first in the long-running series of fantasy games that mix RPG elements with real-time strategy to generally decent effect. This one sets the tone for much of what is to follow in the likes of later add-ons likes Breath of Winter and Shadow of the Phoenix and the proper sequel that is Spellforce 2, and sees players entering a fairly typical fantasy world that is populated by the usual array of orcs, wizards and what-not. The story is fairly complex and generally interesting but lacks the choice of the best RPGs and it is in the gameplay where the game really comes into its own. In true RPG fashion, you create your avatar, choosing from various classes and distributing experience points amongst your stats as you see fit. Once you begin the game proper, you complete quests to earn experience points much the same as in any other hack 'n' slash adventure but in the style of RTSs, you also have to manage resources, constructing buildings, training workers and the like as you go. As a fusion of two different game-styles, Spellforce is generally quite successful, bringing most of the best from both worlds, and is similar to the something like Battle Realms, so if you are a fan of RPGs, RTSs or fantasy, then this should be checked out. It's certainly complex and deep enough to keep veterans challenged and happy and is visually nice and sharp, with lots of detailed environments and character models to enjoy. While much of the gameplay is familiar from games like Rage of Mages, there are also plenty of novel elements and which are backed up by a strong plot, interesting game world, lots of customisation options and compelling quests. Overall, there's much to enjoy here and this comes high recommended.

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