I was really thrilled when given the assignment of reviewing Disciples II, I had played the first one back in 1999 and although I had enjoyed it, I had other games I would have rather done. But seeing the beta and early screenshot severla months ago had me all excited and looking forward to getting my final copy.....I really had fun reviewing this game and the time it sucked from my life.
Disciples II (D2 from now on) is a turn based strategy game. You decide what each unit does during that specific turn and then sit back and watch how that mingles with the computers units. 1 turn equals 1 day in game time. D2 is a fantasy based game, so you will see the usual castles, knights and wizards. The game is similar to Heros of Might and Magic, but although there is no new ground breaking game play,it adds to the already successful Disciples game.
Lets get to the game already!!! This is a strategy game but you will not control tons of units at a time. This allows you to become more familiar with your group and also makes you take a serious interest in their well-being. There are 4 groups you can choose from to begin this game: the Empire, which are tough and gritty humans. The Mountain Clans, which are ancient dwarves. The Undead Hordes which regained their life thanks to their Queen leader, and lastly the Legions of the Damned, creatures directly from hell.
Right off the bat you decide if you want to be part of the good side...or evil. All 4 sides have their distinctive strengths and weaknesses. There isn't a "uber" side to pick, they basically play the same way, just some might suit your evil tendencies more than others. Each has their own strong units that they upgrade to that make it even more exciting. Getting started in the game can be your first challenge, the manual isn't a lot of help and the in game tutorial leaves a lot to be desired, a nice feature in the game is right clicking over an item on your screen, this brings up some nice details about it and helps get you into the game. Your base is your castle. It determines what units you have available to you and their upgrades. As i said earlier, each turn is 1 day of game playing. With the passing of each day the area around your captured castles expands and any resources on that land becomes yours.
You will want the gold which helps to build the new structures, but also their are 4 different Mana types in D2, each one used for a different type spell. Building the structure itself isn't enough to get a new unit, you must also gain experience on the field of battle. Getting battlefield experience isn't difficult, neither is dying in my case, haha. The enemies you fight close to your castle are easier than the ones you come across as you adventure out. As your units fight they gain experience and levels. Disciples 1 had a level cap, D2 has no such cap and thus your Heros can become even more of a killing machine. You pick the playing style of one of 3 leaders:You can play as a warrior lord, mage lord, or guild master lord, according to which you pick you will have your forces focusing more on brute force, magic, or just plain being sneaky. I chose the force and magic route, but also read about how the guild master can send fake orders to the enemy and make them do things that are a benefit to you. I soon learned to save my game often, it saved me from many a time I picked the wrong battle or the wrong strategy.
As a general rule this is Disciples with better graphics, which is not a bad thing. There are some changes that I noticed (and probably some I didn't). You can now choose to have your unit defend a round, this has him take only half the damage he would have taken if not defending. You can also have your unit equip more than 1 item, both of these minor changes add a lot to an already good game. You can lead each of the 4 factions though their own "campaign" or choose from 20 quests. There are different difficulty settings, but the default will give you everything you could ask for. If you charge a much weaker opponent, they just might run away. I've had damaged units that instead of taking a defeat, retreated. I have gotten all involved in one area of the map and the enemy attacked an area I had been neglecting, this caused more than 1 load of a save game for me. I kept getting engrossed in a certain area, planning a battle, then THWAP!!!!, I get attacked where I was least prepared. Don't get frustrated, this game is not an easy one to master, you have to keep on top of the whole map and pick your fights correctly.
Single player is the most fun, but you can play against a friend via LAN or Internet. The game comes with its own editor and I'm sure this means some fantastic downloads of extra quests etc that will be user made. The graphics are very well done and pleasing to the eye. My only real concern here is the resolution is stuck at 800x600. This isn't a game stopper by any means, but with the high end cards and computers out there these day it would have been nice to at least offer a higher resolution than 800x600. I'm not a big critic of sound in games, sure it can add to the atmosphere of the game, but it only sticks out to me if it takes away from the game. The sound in this game is very adequate and some of the unit saying even had me laughing.
You wont find anything new to the genre, but you WILL find a very enjoying and free time taking game. If you enjoyed Disciples, then you will really like Disciples II. If you are new to this game or the turn based strategy game, then this is a fantastic place to start.
"Disciples II : Dark Prophecy" is deemed WORTHPLAYING