War Wind is SSI's outstanding entry into the crowded RTS arena that sadly received a lot less accolades that it deserves. While some may dismiss it immediately as "just another WarCraft clone", the game is much deepe with so many enough innovative features that I like it much more than WarCraft. |
The game is set in the fantasy world of Yavaun, which is ruled by the imperialistic Tha'Roon race. Two other races, the Eaggra and the Obblinox, are under Tha'Roon control, while a third, the Shama'Li, remain unconquered. You can start War Wind as any of the four races in four distinct campaigns, each with seven scenarios linked by excellent plot twists. Each race faces different challenges that exploit the special abilities and weakness of their kind. The Eaggra are characterized by their large numbers and good building skills, while the Obblinox are a tough warrior race. The independent Shama'Li are magic users with superior knowledge of ancient runes. Their objectives are also different. The Obblinox try to suppress the budding revolt but eventually join it, while the Eaggra fight to gain independence. The Tha'Roon have to fight all the races by themselves, and the Shama'Li just try to protect their ancient sites from destruction and even help out the other races.
Gameplay is similar on paper to WarCraft II: create units and have them harvest resources or fight. Where War Wind is different is in the diversity of units, structures you can build, and the pacing. Many of the buildings can be used to further your technology in order to upgrade and create new units. The ability to upgrade units is what makes War Wind much more fun and complex than WarCraft. Each unit can be equipped with a number of "bio-upgrades" to enhance such traits as stealth, armor, speed, strength, and vision. For example, you can upgrade the stealth of a unit until it's completely invisible, but an opponent could also upgrade their units' vision to the point where they can see an invisible army. There are a lot of nuances to creating a good army, and it means more since you can save prized units in a "Hall of Heroes", carrying a core army from scenario to scenario. Choosing the right units for the Hall and then the right ones for each battle is crucial to winning.
All the other standard features of an RTS are included. There is a map/scenario editor, head-to-head play, and excellent graphics and sound effects. There are also many features that make it even less of a WarCraft clone – that is, if you are still skeptical after reading this far ;) There are countless "neutral" monsters roaming the countryside (similar to the Fryhtans in Seven Kingdoms). And you will enjoy developing spells (especially as the Shama'Li) and seeing them in action.
I have a few gripes about the game, but none are major enough to forfeit the Hall of Belated Fame induction. The enemy AI could use some improvement, some mission goals are vague, and certain maps have a puzzle-like quality about them, e.g. a crucial spell must be researched before you can proceed. This makes the game more rigid, which some RTS fans might not like. I find the concept refreshing, though.
Simply put, War Wind is one of the best RTS games ever made. It is deep, engaging, and offers plenty of style and depth to keep you coming back for more. Also, check out War Wind II on this site if you like the game.Reviewed by: Underdogs