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Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
Michael Roca, Jr.

Published by Blizzard

Demo: Yes.

System Requirements
68040 or higher
8 MB RAM
2X CD ROM drive
Machine Tested On:
PowerCenter 604/120MHz
24 MB RAM
4X CD ROM drive

ESRB Advisory:
Teen.



Overview:
Warcraft 2 is the next chapter in the fantasy struggle between Orcs and Humans. The forces of good and evil have expanded their battle to land, sea, and air. The two clashing factions have new allies and are prepared for the intense struggle that awaits them.

Hardware Demands:
Warcraft 2 runs very smoothly on my PowerCenter 120MHz. It even runs at a decent speed on my Centris 610 (68040/20MHz) but it does not work on the 68030. Warcraft 2 requires that you at least have 8 MB of total RAM. You might have to shut off a few extensions if you only have 8 MB of RAM, but it will still run. Warcraft 2 will run comfortably with 12MB of RAM. The game runs in 8-bit color, so all you need is 512K of VRAM. For PowerMacs Warcraft 2 supports stereo sound.

Game Synopsis:
The humans have been defeated. They have been forced to flee their homeland by sea and travel to distant lands, seeking allies to help rebuild their army. The Orcs, not satisfied with the destruction of the Human Kingdom, seek the annihilation of the Humans once and for all. They pursue the Humans to the new lands in order to extend their empire. You must choose your alliance to the Humans or to the Orcs and determine the outcome of this conflict.



The Game:
This game has the same basic concept as Warcraft 1, but it expands on the original to the point where Warcraft 1 pales in comparison. Superior graphics, new soldiers, and spells have been added, as well as new ground units such as goblins, dwarves, Ogres, Elves, and Trolls. There are spell casters such as Mages, Paladins, Ogre-Mages, and Death Knights. There is also a variety of naval units and Air units. And get this: your peasants can actually fight. Excellent 3D rendered movie sequences in between single player levels also add a cool flavor to the game. The demo of Warcraft 2 doesn't do the game justice at all.

The multiplayer aspect of Warcraft 2 is really the best part of the game. It is well balanced and designed specifically for multiplayer battles. Both Orcs and Humans have advantages, but they are both well-balanced. A common problem in Warcraft 1 was that in order to keep a well balanced game, you had to disable certain units, such as Mages. This isn't a problem anymore. Blizzard has designed the game so that you can't win quickly unless you happen to be an expert playing against a novice. You actually have to use good strategy instead of a fixed pattern of play.

Warcraft 2 is networkable up to eight players. Unique spawning technology allows the CD to be copied on to numerous computers, but only the computer with the CD can host a game or play a single player level. All spawned copies can only be used to join network games. There are a variety of multiplayer maps to choose from, ranging from small two-player maps to large eight-player maps. Each map offers a unique environment and strategic fortification. Some maps are focused on sea battles, others are focused on land conflict, and some offer a combination of both. If that isn't enough, Warcraft 2 also comes with a map editor where you can make your own single player and multiplayer maps.

Warcraft 2 features 3D sound if you have external speakers or headphones, so it's easier to tell from which direction your troops are being attacked if you have external speakers or headphones. It also features speech recognition, although it can only be used to verbally enter cheat codes. A sound editor that allows you to edit the human and orc voices or other sounds to any sound clip that you wish. Warcraft 2 also offers many improvements over the PC version, such as higher quality sound, built in TCP/IP play, and compatibility over more types of networks.

The built-in Internet play using TCP/IP adds a cool twist to the game. If you don't know anyone who owns Warcraft 2, or you've gotten so good that people are afraid to play you, then TCP/IP will come in handy. TCP/IP is simple and easy to use. You need an Internet provider (which you most likely already have if you're reading this) and an Internet Relay Chat program. Blizzard provides specific and easy to read instructions about obtaining an IRC program. From that point Internet play is self explanatory. TCP/IP play is completely free of charge. You can also play against PC players by using the TCP/IP over the Kali option. The last I heard, the PC version of Kali costs $15 to register since it is a third-party product. I guess you're lucky you own a Mac.

The Interface:
The interface is simple and straight forward. It's a basic point and click interface. Using some keyboard commands helps you accomplish tasks more quickly. The interface is exactly the same as the PC interface, except that the Mac version allows you to access the Mac menu bar if you type Command-Spacebar. This is good if you want to multitask while in the Warcraft 2 application. The manual is well written: you can easily find out what you need to know. However, you don't even need the manual to learn the game; the manual just comes in handy sometimes. What you really need to know about Warcraft 2 are different strategies for defeating the enemy, but there are hardly any strategy tips in the manual. Blizzard sells the strategy guide for this purpose.

Bug Report:
I found no bugs with my configuration. However, as of this review, Blizzard reported that Warcraft 2 may have a conflict with System 7.5.5, and Apple and Blizzard are working together to find the source of this conflict. Blizzard says that the conflict occurs on computers with PowerPC 604 processors running at 120 MHz and higher using system 7.5.5. Warcraft 2 ran flawlessly on the machines I used for this review (a Centris 610 and a PowerCenter 604/120 MHz).

Conclusion:
I recommend Warcraft 2 to all strategy fans, previous Warcraft 1 fans and even those who do not normally like strategy games. Warcraft 2 is the best strategy game that I have ever played (and perhaps the best strategy game out there). Warcraft 1 networking fans will like the much more balanced multiplayer mode, which supports up to eight players.

Overall: 95%

Rating Percentage
Playability: 90%
Inferface: 100%
Longevity: 100%
Stabilty: 90%
Hardware Demands: 100%
Value: 100%

Pros:
- Well thought-out Internet play, networkable up to eight players.
- Lots of gameplay.
- Good music and sound effects.
- Addictive.

Cons:
- Until there is a fix, caution is advised to PowerPC 604 owners running System 7.5.5.
- Addictive.


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