Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. With its highly varied gameplay, mesmerizing atmosphere, gorgeous soundtrack and overall polish, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is a hypnotizing game so absorbing that it made the world around me dissolve away.
  2. SM's grandest new feature is its random map generator. It works, it's terrific, and as much as I wish I could grouse about it so I don't come off as a fanboy, I can't. [Oct 2003, p.100]
  3. Probably the pinnacle of turn-based strategy titles to date.
  4. The amount of additional features, characters, and units, is so impressive we don't have the space to get into the details. Suffice it to say, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic displays a commendable variety of content that brought the franchise to new heights and effectively improved upon the excellent gameplay of the previous title.
  5. A perfect place to jump into the Age of Wonders series. It's "Age of Wonders II," only sporting a few refinements and a lot of extra content.
  6. The largest maps, which have three different levels of land, can provide dozens of hours of gameplay. [Nov 2003, p.128]
  7. Despite the recycled graphics engine and undulating difficulty, Shadow Magic offers outstanding gameplay with unlimited playability in a variety of gameplay modes.
  8. Shadow Magic carries on the Age of Wonders series' tradition of fine turn-based strategy gameplay, and the changes introduced by the game should please both Age of Wonders veterans and gamers new to the series.
  9. Does a great job of improving on its predecessor's shortcomings and offering deeper, more-balanced gameplay.
  10. 86
    Provides a lot of bang for your buck; it's loaded with additional features, tweaks, and is simply a more balanced game from top to bottom.
  11. 85
    There's lots of new stuff to play with, many new units, many new spells, plenty of campaign scenarios, single scenarios, and a random map generator that actually works like it's supposed to.
  12. The new races added to Age of Wonders already fantastic fantasy world and a host of customizable campaign and level editors means that fans of turn-based strategy will never have to play the same missions twice.
  13. The instruction manual is lacking and the controls can be a little confusing. But with all of the different gameplay elements, Age of Wonders is an excellent addition to anyone’s library.
  14. The focus on wizards adds far more of an edge than Heroes of Might and Magic’s army action, and the increased level of tactics puts Disciples to shame.
  15. This quasi-expansion pack/sequel doesn’t really light any fires, but it does play well. Unfortunately, it lacks that compelling reason to continue playing.
  16. 80
    Though there are a few interface and gameplay quirks, "Shadow Magic" is immensely satisfying. Whether you're new to these games or a grizzled veteran, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic"will keep you playing late into the night.
  17. A random map generator will give you some decent replay value as it works great. It's almost like acquiring a new expansion pack every time you use it.
  18. A fine game in its own right, a throwback to old-school epic strategy at a time when turn-based games are starting to feel like a dying breed. [Oct 2003, p.86]
  19. Like an unexpectedly good BLT. It’s based a little too heavily on "Heroes of Might and Magic," making you long for the days of the "Armageddon Blade," but with some nice crisp bacon and cool fresh lettuce, it still makes for a satisfying sandwich.
  20. But don't be fooled. The new content isn't overwhelming, and Shadow Magic plays almost identically to "Age of Wonders II."
  21. With more variety and strategic depth than any of the previous AOW titles, there are plenty of reasons for fans and beginners alike to immerse themselves in Shadow Magic's world of adventure. [Oct 2003, p.119]
  22. The in-game graphics are as primitive as ever – simply doing their job of representing the positions of your various units around the map – and the basic turn-based concept won’t be every gamer’s cup of tea, but there’s surely enough depth and engrossing potential here to bring hardcore adventurers back for more while enticing a good number of newbies.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 59 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. KanaK.
    Sep 25, 2003
    Very well done game in EVERY aspect! Music, sounds, graphics, (aren't top notch but they don't have to be!) gameplay and every bug they found is squished! A perfect addition to any Strategy game fan! (it's also pretty newbie friendly. So it's easy to get in the game, but it's not easy to get good!) Full Review »
  2. ChristopherD.
    Sep 11, 2003
    It is a excellent addition to the Age of Wonders series. Although the actual maps aready generated are not condusive of LAN or multiplay the random Map Generator more than makes up for it. The new races are an excellent addition to the already large selection. The new spells are a must and the graphics haven't let us down. overall I was well impressed with this thrid part imstallment to a excellent gaming series. Full Review »
  3. BrianW.
    May 31, 2004
    The articles up at the top got it right. Something I didn't see mentioned that needs to be there is the awesome editor and modding capabilities of this beautiful engine. The community has made scores of maps that rival the developers' maps, and some so heavily modded as to represent the entire Lord of the Rings cast of characters and creatures. On top of that, I have yet to see a strategy game with graphics even close to this one. HoMM4, Civ3, you name it, is buried next to this title as strategy behemoth. Full Review »