Genre : Action/Strategy
Developer: The Collective
Release Date: February 10, 2004
With Star Wars' success, Lucas Arts has slowly started to throw away all other series; one such would be one of their original games, Full Throttle. I was so eager to see how the second one would be, only to find that they canned it. Well, to my surprise, Lucas Arts released another non-Star Wars based game that may be a cult favorite, Wrath Unleashed.
Wrath Unleashed is very similar to Culdcept in that they are war-based games requiring some sort of strategy. Culdcept depended on cards you had on hand, while Wrath gives you full control over the figurines in the battles. They both adopt one similar feature, both utilize mythological creatures. Creatures such as the Centaur, Unicorn, Giantess, Genie, and Juggernaut Adept are the standard units for the Light Bestiary. The special units for either Light Order or Light Chaos would be: Water or Fire Elemental, Frost and Blaze Dragon, Ogre Mage, and Fire Giant. Opposing the Light Bestiary, the Dark Bestiary's standard units include: Centabra, Dark Unicorn, Spirit Armor, Djinn, and Nightmare Adept. The special units for Dark Order or Dark Chaos are: Earth or Wind Elemental, Arch or Chaos Demon, Iron Golem, and Cyclops. Each legion has its own land that boosts their power. Light Order receives power from Water, Light Chaos relies on Fire, Dark Order draws from Earth, and Dark Chaos is attached to Wind. Each of their units will gain a higher advantage if they fight on their respective land.
The battles that are drawn out are all in real time, meaning you control the monster, bringing out the beast from within. This only means one thing: if you are really skilled, you can easily beat a more powerful monster. The controls are quite easy to grasp, requiring you to learn a light and heavy melee and magic attack, a block, and the special move. Timing your attack is crucial to ensuring victory; when the enemy is trying to launch a magical or heavy attack (which requires a lot of time to activate), you should rush in and give them a beating with the light melee attack. However, it's best to strategically mix up the moves. For example, the Genie will temporarily freeze the opponent when it uses the light magic attack, giving you the time needed to charge up the heavy attack. Hitting the enemy with these moves will make them quite easy to defeat, even if they have two or more life bars more than you do.
During battle, you can distinguish enemies by their character designs and the amounts of life they have. Each creature has its own attributes, such as its attack style and its amount of health. There is only one visible life bar, so how do they show that the character has more life than others? On the HID above the life bar, you will see circle dots. The dots show that this character has more than one life bar and would require more of a beating to defeat. So if possible, use your magic attacks because they turn the battle around, but remember that magic isn't unlimited. On the levels where you have the advantage, it would mean there are magic recharge points for your characters. All you have to do is run to that spot and watch your magic HID charge up, allowing you to execute more magic attacks.
There is one special attack, and that is hitting the L1 button. I am not completely certain what it does since I have not successfully executed the attack. All I've managed to do when I've tried it is to see a white surrounding shield which is easily broken through. If someone figures out how to successfully execute these specials, please tell me. I really would like to have the upper hand against the computer. Without this method to give you the advantage, you should use your eyes and observe the surrounding area, watching for the traps on the battleground. Once you find them, force your enemy over them because it will stun them for an instant, giving you a clear opening to attack the enemy. If you can't get the chance, you should use the immobile objects as defense. There are several trees or rocks which you can take cover behind, but beware since they are destructible. The field isn't a simple 2D field. Instead, it's in complete 3D, in the manner you commonly see in 3D fighters such as DOA2. Also, to prevent you from running off the map, the arena is completely blocked off with a laser shield. I think it was a good idea because if it wasn't there, you would see me play very cheaply. I would implement a hit and run tactic, attacking with the weak magic and then running away to wait for them to run to me, and then repeating the same process again.
Well, the battlefield isn't the only point where you will be using strategy. The main board also requires you to strategically plan where to go and what creature to move where. On the board, you will be able to distinguish what type of land the area is and if there are any special items. Special items would be: Citadel, Temple, Gate, Mana Wat, Nexus Point, and Magic Amplifier. A citadel is pretty much a sanctuary for the demigods where magic cannot be cast on that terrain, as well as being a place where they regenerate more than in a temple. In a sense a citadel is a powered-up temple. These places are all over the map, and when your objective is to capture a majority of them, it's best to use Gates. Gates are portals which teleport you from one position to the next, making it faster to dominate the land. But if you want to play a defensive game utilizing your mana, you should take over the Mana Wats, which help regenerate more mana each turn. Mana is used for the demigods or special creatures which can heal, summon items, teleport, and much more. Probably the most devastating attack would be Wrath which costs three Mana points and takes away two health bars of damage. Additionally, one of the more important items is likely the Magic amplifier, which allows any creature on the map to cast spells similar to the adepts (lower powered demigods who lack the ability of Wrath). Lastly, to ensure that the levels never repeat, they have implemented Nexus Points which you must have your creatures on in order to open up hidden territory. It is pretty much the key to completing a few missions.
There are a total of four arcs - one arc for each character and four missions per arc, slowly moving toward becoming the Ruler of Gaia. During these missions, there are several objectives: destroy a certain creature, destroy the opposition, defeat the main demigod, or capture temples. Do remember there is a turn limit; if you reach the turn limit before completing your objective, let's just say, "Welcome to the apocalypse." I personally feel that capturing temples is the hardest to complete because you cannot cast any spells to give you an advantage when the enemies are on them. Also, if you are unsuccessful in defeating them that turn, they will regain life for the next attack. Before the beginning of these missions, you will enjoy the characters taunting each other about who is better than the other.
The sound in the game is primarily focused on the characters voices. You will get to hear constant "quarrels" between light and dark. Typical, no? Each side claims that the other will not defeat them, only to be disappointed in the end. While in the game, you won't be hearing your demigods speaking; rather, you would hear the narrator narrating what is happening. And if you pay enough attention, you may even notice the BGM. Well, it's very apparent but when I get too focused on wanting to win, I tune it out. When you do have time to listen to the tracks, it meets the expectations you tend to hear in these god-type battles.
In order to accurately portray these battles, you can't do any better than backing them up with powerful mythological creatures. And let me say this: whoever did the drawings of these did an impressive job. The details on them are just so crisp and enjoyable that at times you forgive the long load time. If the creatures weren't enough, the battle grounds are great. The destructible objects on the screen are very detailed, and it's easy to tell what type of land you're in from the surrounding art. For example, when it's Water, you will clearly see icy lands or even water puddles in the battle arena. But to top it all off, they have included some nicely done CG scenes. They aren't impressive, but they are kind of nice to watch. The only times you really get to see these are at the start of the game and when you finish the campaign.
You can't forget a multiplayer mode in these battle type games. Like Culdcept, Wrath: Unleashed has the ability to play against up to four opponents. You see how this battle system works first hand in the end battle of Light Order's campaign which shows Team Fighter. Versus and Team Fighter are the two types of multiplayer modes.
Overall, this game is a pretty solid game with only one major downside: load times. This has got to be the game with the longest load time on the PS2 aside from love smash which will never make it to the states. Points requiring loading include the initial load of the battle map, each battle, and lastly completion or failure of your objectives. Regardless of how well you did on the mission, it will always say game over. Nice, don't you think? Lucas Arts has always been a great company, especially when they bring out non-Star Wars items. But for this title, I would have to say otherwise; I really wished they had invested more time in this project. This game could have been such a sleeper hit, but with that downside, I can't recommend it to everyone. I definitely say give this game a shot. You may be able to take the load times and enjoy the game thoroughly.
Score : 8.2 / 10
More articles about Wrath Unleashed