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PC Reviews: Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic


Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic Screenshots


The Final Say!


Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic -
reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 26 August 2003
Review Score: 8.5/10
Distributed by Take 2 Interactive

Return to a world of magic and mystery in Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, that takes gamers to the next phase of this popular series. The story takes places where the last game finished and although Merlin defeated the treacherous Circle of Traitors, he unwillingly unleashed magical cosmic rifts that have separated the realms.

From these cosmic rifts, the demon world now has access to that of man and threatens the very fabric of the universe itself. Apart from the deadly demons that now scourge the world of man, a new empire has also emerged called the Phobians who have now pledged war on the ancient races and the users of magic. Without any stable magicks in the world, the wizards have now fled but fortunately they are still in contact with Merlin who promises to free mankind once again. Your mission is simple, destroy the Phobian Empire and the demon army so that you can liberate the world and become King.

Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a strange game that joins RPG and empire building into one very interesting and addictive game. As with most good RPG games, you must explore various areas in order for your character to acquire new magicks and experience points so you can become more and more powerful until you are ready to combat more powerful creatures and armies.

Having never played the previous games of the series, the developers have included a very comprehensive three-stage tutorial that teaches gamers the basics in city building, using spells and accessing your hero-based characters. The learning scale of this game is considerably high but after completing the tutorial, you will eventually master the game.

The game itself contains 16 different scenarios that span over five different episodes so you can be guaranteed that nothing becomes too stale. Apart from the twelve classic races of Age of Wonders, there are three new races that include The Nomads, Syrons and the Shadow Demons.

You begin the game in your own part of the world as one of the many races but as you explore the single-player campaign, you are soon allowed to recruit other races that allows you to explore the world of Age of Wonders. By building, exploring, fighting and adventuring, you slowly progress through the storyline that eventually leads you to the climatic battle. It should also be noted that this game is a turn-based strategy that allows for some very interesting gameplay as you can actually think out each battle and then watch the proceedings unravel.

Graphically, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a visual treat that contains extremely detailed characters and backgrounds that are not only colourful but are also well animated. The beauty of the graphic system is that each character is uniquely different, whether you see a Treeman (Elf) or Dragon, they all have their own personalised traits, movements and abilities. The game is also empowered by a variety of special effects that include some of the best looking spell effects to have ever graced a game of this genre.

Musically, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a musical treat that really helps set the atmosphere of this mythical world and truly sound like something out of Hollywood. The sound effects of the game are also perfect and each allied and enemy unit has their own sound effect and voice. Add some great sounding special effects such as explosions and spells and you have a match made in gamer heaven.

In conclusion, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a very unique game that takes the best parts of RPG, empire building and turn-based strategies games that turns it into a very comprehensive and addictive game. The turn-based aspect of the game may scare some gamers away but it actually suits the game perfectly and allows for some extremely interesting battles. With some great graphics, awesome sound effects and brilliant gameplay, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic would be the perfect addition to your gaming collection and is considered a thinking mans role-playing game. Check it out!

- Andrew B

Copyright 2002 www.impulsegamer.com