Unfortunately FE is a medicore game for me. Much better than War of Magic, the GUI is far more intuitive and game feels a lot more polished overall than its predecessor, but still it does not trigger the just-one-more-turn effect that makes some of the games out there to be the titles to remember. This game proves like no others that a great game is more than just a sum of it parts - because FE has all parts necessary to be great, but it is not. The gameplay is simply kind of bland, generic, and the balancing were too often done in the worst way possible - simply by cutting corners. For instance - city spam that was a problem in War of Magic was dealt with by allowing to settle only on few titles on the map, race balance was achieved simply by making all races almost the same - they are just retextured humans that feel almost the same while played etc. The biggest flaw in my opinion is just that - the lack of diversity between playable races that takes the fantasy gaming charm away. Diversity of creatures and fantastic races has always been the core of fantasy TBS-games and creates the feeling of uniqueness, which is simply missing in FE. I guess the development had focused on technical issues and has missed the more elusive and subtle aspects of a game designing. Some other issues I got with the game: the city development part is poor - at the beginning there is just too much to build, after a while the cities stay idle, unless they train troops. Too much things depends on sheer luck - in many cases a starting location or a quest reward decides about being or not to being of your or AI's kingdom/empire. Itemization is poorly implemented - I kept finding items with level requirement of 7 or 10 with lvl 1-3 champions. There suppose to be an abundance of spells but it is hard to get a feeling of that, because separate Spell books have like 20 spell in it or less. And again - it is not up to you what kind of magic you specialize, but up to the map generator, that decides what shards will be in your kingdom/empire. On top of that the game has some technical difficulties - the fps drops significantly while the game progresses. I suspect it is because every unit can use it's own equipment so the game has to render them all separately, but still it will be an unpleasant surprise for a powerhouse-PC owners.… Full Review »
I really want to like this game. Fall From Heaven II, the Civilization IV game mod where FE developer Kael first made a name for himself, remains one of my favorite video games. Everything which should make this a great game is present- an epic story, customizeable units, diverse fantasy words, dozens of enemy types, lairs, exploration, quests- and all in a 4X game. Unfortunately, FE manages to be less than the sum of its parts; * Although every hero, enemy creature, unit and civilization has paragraphs of background, the writing is often simply execrable. It's almost impossible to parse any meaning from under the piles of randomly-generated fantasy names and poorly-constructed sentences. Immersion is important for fantasy games, even when the "plot" is developed through the player's own actions, but in FE it quickly becomes impossible to dodge the reality that you're just grinding down some AI, and the game becomes much less interesting for it. * Game balance is badly off. You can easily munchkin yourself into an impossible lead using the character creation system (combining the "recruit any hero" civ ability with the "recruit heroes for free" leader trait makes the game a farce). Even if you just stick with one of the paltry eight default leaders, it quickly becomes apparent that it makes much more sense to spend 40 gold shaving several turns off a unit's completion via cash-rushing than using the same sum to purchase a +1 defense helmet for a single unit. Missile units have unlimited range in tactical combat mode, where AI armies are principally composed of slow-moving melee grunts. * The AI itself seems barely capable of playing the game, even on the higher difficulty levels. The AI is extremely passive and rarely ever attacks in force. Curiously the AI is also laughably overconfident, and will often refuse to make peace even when relieved of all but one of their cities. * The 4X side of the game is extremely limited. There are very few tiles where you can settle new cities, with little rhyme or reason for why one location is suitable for colonization while the verdant green field nearby is not. Settling a city will remove all other potential city sites within a wide radius for reasons which are never made clear. Cities themselves are essentially identical, with the main difference being how many enchantments each can support. * While the cities themselves are dramatically oversimplified, with no tile management and little impetus to specialize, cities are also unnecessarily complex and difficult to manage. City growth is predicated on two separate food mechanics, and there are multiple, differently-named types of production, which are then combined into a generic "production" total. Cities have far too many buildings they can add, many of which are necessary if you want to complete mid and late-game units within reasonable timeframes without having to purchase. * FE's functions are poorly-documented and its menus are often confusing. How many units does "40 Metal" get me? I have no idea. It's probably mentioned, but I couldn't tell you where. When I'm trading " 5 Magic tech" for "4 Warrior tech" in diplomacy, what does that really represent? Can I lose technological progress that way? Does the number refer to research points, and if so are they only for techs the other person lacks which you have? It isn't immediately apparent what the repercussions are for trading away most of the items available in diplomacy. * FE is years behind other titles in the 4X genre in some very basic areas. Cities with nothing in their build queues promptly go idle, with only a small icon in the corner of the screen to alert you that nothing is happening. Roads are produced automatically without player input; if you want to build your own to speed units to the front lines, you're out of luck. Even loading saves necessitates first exiting to the main menu. It should also be noted that the unit and leader graphics are almost shockingly dated, even by 4X standards. I personally didn't mind much, but it is disappointing for a 40 dollar game. * There are a few technical issues and other bugs which I had hoped would have been resolved during this title's very long development cycle. CTD occur every few hours. Certain quest rewards fail to appear. Memory leak occurs steadily while playing for extended periods, even on a powerful computer. On occasion the save loading screen disappears. Despite the far too many words I have devoted above to attacking the game, FE isn't *bad* by any means. It's fun to play for a while, and the opening 60 turns or so are fantastic, when the game world is full of places to explore, loot to grab & things to fight. Play much longer however and the game becomes a slog of traveling through open wastelands to gradually pummel unthinking AI to death with a few superhuman armies.… Full Review »
8Think of this game as one part HoMM, one part Civ 5 and one part Warlock: Master of the Arcane. It takes most of the good (though not all) of the elements from all those games and puts them together quite competently.
From HoMM we have the hero system and the tactical grid-based combat, which Civ 5 and Warlock sorely missed, making combat much more interesting and dynamic. We also have the tactical spell system with plenty of schools and variety.
From Civ 5 we have the city founding system with it's plethora of upgrades, the research system with even more research options than Civ had and the diplomacy system.
From Warlock we have the dynamic city building and resource nodes which built upon the Civ system so successfully and much of the monster and unit variety that gave that gave some decent replay value. Also here are the tactical spells that game had so many of.
On the whole this game has combined these disparate elements quite successfully, addressing many of the individual problems the other games had like the city spamming of Civ 5 and Warlock, the boring combat of those same, or the set piece feel of HoMM. On the whole, I'd say this: The game is probably the best entry in the genre for the past few years, and manages to be superior to each of the games it draws inspiration from, even though it doesn't manage to surpass them all on every individual point (HoMM had a story, Civ 5 had more diverse gameplay, Warlock had more unit types).… Full Review »