previews\ May 18, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Etherlords II - PC - Preview

E3 2003 - Hands On


With sterling three-dimensional graphical elements, Etherlords II: Second Age combines elements of turn-based strategic gaming with a wee bit of adventure to entice fans of both genres


Strategy First was demonstrating the PC game at E3 in Los Angeles and some were fortunate enough to walk away with a preview build of the game.


“There is a lot of strategy involved, also a little bit of luck,” said Pro Sotos, a product manager at Strategy First. “It just depends on the cards you get – it is a card game.”


The major change for the previous title to the new release is that Strategy First designers toned down the strategy template in favor of one more prone to action.


The game sports five races, and one of the objects is to gather resources to fuel your ether, which is akin to mana in other games. You will journey across a richly rendered world, encounter a variety of monsters and obstacles that you will have to fight your way past. There are two phases to the combat – attack and defend. And one of the key elements to success in the combat phase of the game is patience.


Etherlords II also supports multiplayer gaming with up to eight players involved in tournaments and plans call for five-to-six different modes of play.


As mentioned, this game relies on a card system for combat. You receive cards at the start and when you enter a combat phase, the game is turn-based, and you will have the opportunity to play your cards if you have enough ether. Ether is generated per turn, based on the cards in play. Cards will be replenished as the game evolves. Choosing which cards to collect and which to play during combat is the key to success.


The look of the game is wonderful. This is a program that features an interesting mix of monsters and heroes. The special effects are well done and the overall look is lush. The game’s sound is a supporting character only, and while solid, does not stand out.


Gameplay is not exactly intuitive. There will be a learning curve and walking through the tutorial provided is a good idea. Those who wish to jump ahead and just go for it may find themselves scratching their heads a bit. However, the format is easy to pick up on and the learning curve should only be about 10-20 minutes.


Etherlords II offers a wonderful realm, with simplistic puzzles and combat at almost every turn. This is a game that looks good and plays well. Combat strategy is essential and like any true chess match, you must be thinking two-three moves ahead. Of course, a little luck doesn’t hurt either.

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