previews\ Dec 16, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Disciples II: Dark Prophecy - PC - Preview

“A decade has passed since the First Great War: the final prophecy continues to unfold. Deep within the crevices of the Sacred Lands, the Chosen One has emerged, fated to bring salvation to some and destruction to other.”

Welcome to the world of Disciples II: Dark Prophecy, a strategic turned-based game from Strategy First. This was only a preview version of the game, but it’s depth, its strong storyline and graphical battles promise that if this game can actualize the promise of the preview, this should be a game that is on the top of most strategic gamers’ wish lists.

This game follows on the heels of the original Disciples product, with some twists. There are four factions, and gamers will have to decide which to play for. Because the Chosen One has already been determined, decisions about which faction you decide to emulate will play a role in how the game plays out.

The four factions include The Empire, the Mountain Clans, The Undead Hordes and The Legions of the Damned. Each is battling the others for control of the lands, each is adamant upon realizing the dream of domination.

This game will feature more than 200 individually animated units, and more than 100 spells. Each race has its own unique storyline, and the campaign editor will allow players to build their own scenarios.

But how does this game play out?

You begin by selecting the clan you will represent. Granted, the beta build was a little light on information about how to progress, but this game is little different that a lot of other turn-based games. You select a course of action and follow it. Sometimes you will manage just fine; at others, you will encounter difficulties and combat. Remember, this is a turn-based game, and all actions are based on movement points, and – when in combat – turns. You might want to cross the river to a point you feel will bring you an advantage, but that movement may cost you several turns, and likely, there is opposition en route.

You choose you’re hero type, each with distinct abilities, then you go about trying to accomplish the various task set before you. Do not count on seeing the opposition. You will encounter them quite unexpectedly. Once you exhaust your movement points, either you will be thrown into the midst of combat, or you will survive to move freely on another round. Little flags will mark your course through the map board, but you can’t always move the entire distance in one move.

Graphically this game is very good. The two-dimension graphical elements try to emulate a three-dimensional feel, and the rendering is detailed, with lush, bright colors. Sound-wise, the beta needs some work. This is mostly average stuff. When you get into a combat situation, the actual fighting is very two-dimensional, with all of the action taking place in turn-based style – meaning that if you don’t target the right characters first, you may find yourself on the losing end of the combat.

The sound of the beta was merely average, while the control elements took time to get used to. This is a keyboard- and mouse-driven game.

This game is a follow to Disciples: Sacred Lands, and while the former was a very good RTS, with its added features, character development and graphics, Dark Prophecy will likely exceed the original creation. And that is how it should be.

This game is intriguing. The graphics are compelling and the turn-based action requires thought, not quick reflexes in order to survive.

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