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Strategy & War
Release Date
Gold Master

December 14, 2001 | Michael Eilers

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Magic is the primary tool of the game, and the motivator behind all of the action. You must use magic spells to summon creatures, create defensive structures, harvest the souls of the dead and of course blast your enemies into tiny bits. However magic is not free – to use it you must spend “Mana.” This inexhaustible power source is left over from a previous war of the gods, and appears in the form of giant glowing fountains of energy. After you claim a mana fountain as your own (by building a “manalith” on it – nudge nudge, get it?) your mana supply recharges continually, allowing you to cast spells. If you let all of your mana fountains be captured, your mana supply will recharge much more slowly than your opponent – giving you a serious disadvantage.

In the solo game you start with a basic set of spells, and earn new ones as you go along. In multiplayer mode you have access to all the spells and creatures of the god you choose to ally with, but the more powerful spells use up more mana, so you must use them with discretion. Most of the time you will be using magic to summon creatures to join your army, and then to heal or protect them as they attack their foes.

To summon creatures you have to spend the other resource of the game: souls. Each creature takes a minimum of one soul to summon, and some may take as many as three. Souls are indestructible, but they can fall into enemy hands and thus must be protected at all costs. To win you must be effective at harvesting (converting) enemy souls as well as grabbing your own before another wizard gets them; as there is a fixed number of them available to everyone, you can effectively “starve out” an opponent and leave them with no way to summon an army by converting all of his or her souls.

In a nod to RPG-style gaming, each of your creatures gains in experience and abilities as they kill opponents, so it is in your best interest to keep them alive rather than just sending an endless stream of minions to die.

The Engine
The game itself uses a true 3D engine with a remarkable level of visual detail. With a complex “level of detail” algorithm the engine is able to display vast terrain distances and numerous animated units onscreen in realtime. Make no mistake, it requires some serious hardware to run with all detail levels on, but visual splendor such as this doesn’t come for free.

While Bungie’s tactical strategy game Myth was a definite success, many reviewers and players found the camera controls difficult to master and a little too abstract. Sacrifice’s answer to this dilemma is to tie the camera to a single figure on the battlefield: your wizard. While you can pan around and zoom in and out, the camera is always locked on this all-important figure. Though you lose the tactical advantage of being able to glide over the battlefield and spy out your opponents, the fixed viewpoint guarantees you will always be in the middle of the action.

The 3D engine itself is chock full of features – true-3D structures and characters abound, as well as projected shadows, weather effects, animated skies and plenty of transparency and special effects. The game landscape itself can be deformed and changed, and a battle leaves noticeable scars and blood on the ground. Though this title was begun in 1999 and released in 2000, few 2001 (and 2002) titles come close in the visuals department. It is as if Salvador Dali and H.R. Giger got together and played around with 3D Studio Max for a few weeks with a cooler full of Bass Ale between them.


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