|Publisher: Sandlot Games Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: Any CPU RAM: 256 MB Hard Disk: 100 MB Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit, 32 MB VRAM|
Ever sat down in your local electronics store and watched that massive 70" monster run Casino Royale in full HD? Coming back home to your own leaves you wanting and a little dissatisfied. Westward II feels like this. After a year of Age of Empires III I can't help but dislike it massively. In all honesty it is a decent game by itself, but the experience is like going from first to third class midway in a flight - it sucks.
Though somewhat fun, it lacks originality and comes across as yet another monetizing cash-cow sequel.
Mediocrity and subtletySeveral Westward games have been released since its inception in 2006. Unfortunately, the latest and third iteration has not yet been ported. This leaves us with Westward II.
The game revolves around the American settler concept. You manage an explorer and attempt to create a new life in the West, all the while defending your hapless inhabitants from angry trouble making bandits. Sounds original, right?
Wrong. Ever heard of a little game called Age of Empires III? Same gameplay, same style graphics and same hero concept... hmmmm. I hate it when people rip-off a good idea, and this is no exception. The ever expanding casual games market takes no prisoners in it's quest to world domination. Even the map is located in the same place.
GameplaySo let's forget about the before mentioned and focus on the game alone for a moment.
Gameplay is fairly similar to other RTS games, namely in that it involves gathering resources to build a stable economy and micromanagement is available for all your settlers. What this means is that you decide the details. One might have four people working on wood and five on food. In the end, like in most games of this genre, it is about finding the best combination of resource use and making it as efficient as possible.
The tutorial is informative and helpful and gets you on the move quickly. All other topics of gameplay are shown while playing through the campaign. Overall it is very easy to play.
My one problem was the food system. I would get a decent amount of food production and then suddenly my food workload would drop dramatically for reasons I could not understand. Most of my settlers would quickly leave soon after for hunger, leaving me a bit perplexed. Obviously I am missing something here.
GraphicsThough somewhat decent for the price, in a universal overview of the industry they are appalling. Characters are chunky and poorly animated while the game only supports a max resolution of 1024 x 768. Couple this with a very poor rate of performance (it stutters tremendously while moving around the map) and it disappoints.
The art style is the one redeeming factor. It manages to stay consistent throughout with an "old west" theme. If only they had taken this much care in the 3D modeling.
SoundsStereotype wild west voices abound (and annoy) all the way through. I ended my time with this game completely despising every character due to the pure irritation that they created. Expect plenty of "Howdy!" and "What can I do ya for?" by overemphasized deep south accents. Most importantly, expect to cringe.
The music is suitable for the theme, but quickly begins to get on ones nerves. They loop with great frequency and rarely change during play, burning themselves into your memory. I don't see why they couldn't at least code them to change frequently.
ValueWestward II has a decent campaign with plenty of side-quests to enjoy. If you aren't feeling like being constrained by objectives, you can always go to free play mode. This gives you total freedom to do whatever you want in one of three maps.
Value wise, Westward II is quite decent for the price.
ClosingYou may be thinking "this doesn't sound too bad". That is because it isn't. What I dislike about it is the "cheap" feel and the fact that it pales in comparison to more complex games. For those who have never experienced an RTS before it is a great entry level game, but those who play "proper" RTS games will most likely hate it.
The final score shown up top is one that represents the more hardcore gamer group. For those of you who are into more casual games this may be the best thing since sliced bread. In the end there are better choices, but Westward II does enough to make it a compelling (and strangely inspired) RTS.
Pros• Decent campaign
• Appealing gameplay
Cons• Westward II = Age of Empires
• Fails to explain food management
• Horrendous sound