A game to sink your teeth into

Business World - - WEEKENDER - By Alexan­der O. Cuaycong

Total War: Warham­mer II, the sec­ond of­fer­ing in the Warham­mer Tril­ogy of Cre­ative Assem­bly and pub­lished by Sega, takes its lore from Games Work­shop’s table­top Warham­mer Fan­tasy

Bat­tle. This pe­cu­liar blend of turn-based strat­egy mixed with real-time com­bat is the se­quel to Total War: Warham­mer, and takes play­ers on an epic cam­paign to four brand-spank­ingnew con­ti­nents out­side the scope of the first game. Us­ing one of four dif­fer­ent races di­vided into eight sep­a­rate fac­tions, play­ers must vie for con­trol over a storm of im­mense power called “The Great Vor­tex,” and tame or de­stroy the mag­i­cal rift be­fore their com­peti­tors do.

De­sign-wise, TW: WII’s map is noth­ing short of epic. It spans: 1.) the beau­ti­ful is­land of Ulthuan, civ­i­lized and tame; 2.) the wild jun­gles of Lus­tria, filled to the brim with an­cient tem­ples and ru­ined cities; 3.) the frozen wastes of Nag­garoth, harsh and deadly; and, 4.) the barren deserts of the South­lands. And then there are the four fac­tions, taken di­rectly from Games Work­shop’s own de­signs. From the no­ble and proud High Elves, to the sadis­tic and bru­tal Dark Elves, to the feral Lizard­men slith­er­ing in the jun­gles, to the sneaky Skaven skulk­ing in the shad­ows, the races are as var­ied as they come — not only look­ing dif­fer­ently but play­ing dif­fer­ently as well. For ex­am­ple, the High Elves and their evil cousins, the Dark Elves, rely on mon­sters and elite troops to hold the line and break for­ma­tions. The Lizard­men use brute strength and di­nosaurs to pum­mel en­e­mies into sub­mis­sion. And the Skaven, ever schem­ing, play ex­actly like rats, crawl­ing out of dark cor­ners and am­bush­ing un­sus­pect­ing vic­tims.

Thus, while the over­all ob­jec­tive of the bat­tles is the same (rout the en­emy off the field and pum­mel them into sub­mis­sion), the ways in which play­ers can do it vary greatly. The High Elves have dis­ci­plined in­fantry and elite cav­alry to over­come en­e­mies, or magic to heal their own troops. The Dark Elves can make use of blood lust, chan­neled into a me­ter called Mur­der­ous Prow­ess, which, when ac­tive, gives them stat boosts and makes them deadly foes. Lizard­men units go berserk and be­come al­most un­stop­pable with their

Pri­mal Fury me­chan­ics. Skaven pos­sessby sum­moningand abil­i­ti­escatch morethemto am­bush off-guardunits en­e­mies on the field when­ever and wher­ever prac­ti­ca­ble. Cou­ple that with the un­der­ly­ing ob­jec­tive of con­trol­ling “The Great Vor­tex,” and it’s easy to see how TW: WII stands out. This isn’t just an em­pire man­age­ment game like pre­vi­ous re­leases in the Total War li­brary. This is de­signed with a cam­paign in mind. The ob­jec­tive forces play­ers to scheme, plot, and con­quer their way to dom­i­nance over the rift. Mis­sions ap­pear fre­quently to

give play­ers the abil­ity to per­form rit­u­als to tame “The Great Vor­tex,” and with each com­pleted rit­ual, the odds be­gin to mount, as more en­e­mies pop out to pre­vent them from tak­ing place. It be­comes a race against time as play­ers must com­pete with the AI on who wrests con­trol of the Vor­tex and thereby wields con­trol over the fate of the world. Con­sid­er­ing the breadth and

depth of the chal­lenges, play­ers feel a real sense of achieve­ment when the fi­nal scenes play out. Ev­ery cam­paign is rig­or­ous and, de­pend­ing on the dif­fi­culty level, may fin­ish,WII’sbe To ex­ploit­ed­take dom­i­na­tionbe AI, and sure, some while even very flaws 20-odd­more for­mi­da­ble,cam­paign.eas­ily. abound.for hours Hardera map­wide TW: canto mod­esjust and give don’t more them make chal­leng­ing;bonus the re­sourcesAI smarterthese to work bat­tleswith. Thusly, in­vari­ably later cam­paign­turn into a slog. Diplo­macy is still woe­fully bro­ken, and sev­eral im­pact­ful bugs are still present two weeks after launch. The cli­mate sys­tem, while in­ter­est­ing, leaves a lot to be de­sired, and the atro­cious up­keep must be ad­dressed, as these serve to ar­ti­fi­cially hin­der play­ers by hand­i­cap­ping them rather than serv­ing as fair tests of skill. Still and all, TW: WII is noth­ing short of fan­tas­tic. With a lengthy and dif­fi­cult cam­paign play­ers can sink their teeth into, AND with guar­an­teed sup­port from de­vel­op­ers via a Free Cam­paign called Mor­tal Em­pires for own­ers of the first Warham­mer ti­tle, the lat­est re­lease is a def­i­nite must-buy. While it may not be the per­fect Total War game, it’s an en­joy­able romp through Game’s Work­shop’s Warham­mer uni­verse. Play­ers who love grand strat­egy of­fer­ings mixed with real-time bat­tles would do well to pick it up. Highly rec­om­mended, and a steal at $60.

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