Warlords first surfaced on the Atari 2600 and has become such a classic, it’s had several re-makes and releases over the years. Warlords 2012 isn’t just a re-release though, it’s a complete revamp of the original title with some added extras and updates which delivers a full game experience over the original creation which by today’s standards is rather simple for the current generation.
So how does it fair?, keep reading to find out. Though the game’s been updated for the current generation, it still holds what was key to the game’s overall design on the Atari 2600. You still have the building blocks that made the game great, but with a strategy element thrown in with the minions and abilities which you have to fight over to win.
The game’s overall objective is to protect your castle and destroy the enemies. This may sound simple, but you also have multiple fireballs to defend yourself against, as well as controlling your minions to capture the various control points to gain an advantage. This does sound fairly easy, but it provides you with some extremely fast and complex gameplay at times. You will always be on your toes while playing this as once the A.I difficulty changes, it will start to give you a run for your money.
As you start out the audio is rather quirky and interesting as you would expect. All the voice acting for the minions and various characters is also interesting and humorous. The music also fits the game extremely well, and has a high quality production value, but there audio does become repetitive.
Most of the time there’s so much going on you’re just listening to sound effects rather than music, but this isn’t really a bad thing as you hear the same music a lot while playing through the various stages of the game. The audio isn’t the highlight of the game, but it’s done well enough to suite everything that’s going on to add to the experience.
The overall style of the game is set in a cartoon style which complements the environments and overall character to the game. All the characters are over the top and all have a humor about them. The textures are what you would expect from most cartoon style games, there are various low resolution textures, but due to how everything is put together, it doesn’t really detract from the overall look and feel of the game. There’s no frame rate issues, or screen tearing which there shouldn’t be with this style of game. With the fast paced action packed levels you take part in, issues with frame rate would ruin the experience.
The games visual style is rather interesting and colorful. Which is nice to see as there are very few games that really take advantage of a decent color range.
The overall style design seems to be a popular trend with arcade titles currently, but it’s a style that I’ve found to be quite welcoming. There’s a lot of arcade games that have to be compressed and manipulated to fall within the restrictions of the digital release requirements, but these cartoony art styles are interesting to look at, and don’t hold the game back due to dreadful compression and issues with screen tearing and frame rates.
This is where the game really shines. Unlike a lot of older re-release titles of classic games, Griptonite Games and Atari have gone the extra mile. They’ve taken the original concept and built on the whole base mechanics of the game, which still play the biggest role. But they’ve also added in several other things such as minions which you can control, bonus control points and improved visuals.
To begin with, the game seems fairly simple, and it’s rather easy. All you have to do is destroy the other towers and deflect the fireballs that are bouncing around the map. it’s a simple enough task, you just need to get past the walls of the castle of your enemies. As you start to progress more fireballs will be introduced which you need to deflect with your shield. The further in, the harder this becomes, just as you would expect.
Unlike the original release, you now have minions which you can control to capture control points, repair your castle walls, or attack other minions and other castles. These little guys are useful, but they have their restrictions and it can be quite a task balancing the bouncing fireballs with keeping your enemies at bay from capture points and castle destruction. There is some element of strategy involved with balancing everything, but your minions provide you with an advantage over your opponents as the more capture points you manage to capture, the more your enemies will suffer.
Even though juggling these things can be a little tricky, you also have three commands which you can control via you D-Pad. Doing so will allow your minions to go on autopilot. Just make sure you keep track of them as the commands don’t work quite as well as if you move the snoot leader into position manually.
Aside from the games main story mode, you also have a multiplayer mode which supports up to 4 human players, or 1 human player and 3 A.I players. These modes are just like the story mode, but you get to control elements of what happens, such as the amount of fireballs and the difficulty of the A.I enemies. The one downfall to the multiplayer is that you need at least 1 other human player to proceed with any games. At the time of this review, the lobbies seem to be fairly sparse, but the function to play online with other people rather than just locally is a huge plus.
Something that really faults the game is the major issue to do with booting into the game. The game has a lot to offer, but you may need to restart it several times as you may or will get stuck in the intro flash screens as the game boots up. There doesn’t seem to be a work around, but this really damages the experience as the last thing you want to do is pay out to see an endless looping set of title cards for your money.
One thing that some of you may be wondering, is there any way to play the game like the old classic. Well you’re in luck, the developers have decided to put in the classic view as well as the new 3d view into the game. So if you’re not happy with how the game plays, you can jump over overhead view which in my opinion should be the standard view. All you have to do is use the left bumper to switch between views, though this isn’t mentioned anywhere that I’ve seen in the game.
Warlords HD 2012 remaster and re-release is a rather interesting take on the original title which consisted of just a few blocks and very basic design. We’ve come a long way when in terms of game design, and Griptonite Games and Atari have done a fantastic job updating this once simple classic to a full experience with plenty to offer.
That being said, arcade classics aren’t for everyone, but this is definitely worth checking out. It’s hard to class this game as any one type as it covers several different classic arcade styles. The game offers a hint of tower defense with strategy, with a hint of breakout mixed in. It’s quite hard to explain in any one sentence the style of the game, so check it out yourself to see if it’s something you want to add to your classic arcade collection.
The one huge letdown which really faults the game is the issue loading the game. This will hopefully be patched, and I’m a little surprised it slipped past the QA team as it’s an issue that crops up 9 out of 10 times while trying to start the game. I’ve taken this into account with the overall score of this review, if the issues are fixed, this game is well worth the $10, but in it’s current state, try the demo and see for yourself.