Spellforce 2: Faith in Destiny
The production of Spellforce 2: Faith in Destiny started in 2006 with the title announced in 2009. It was then cancelled, bizarrely but has regardless been completed and rolled out for consumption by the world’s public. It was planned to be an expansion to the previous Spellforce games (think RPG and RTS elements combined) but those plans have changed and it has now been released as a standalone version. As the production started as long ago as 2006 you might expect an old game with dated graphics, but when its prequel was released it was one of the more impressive looking PC games, so graphically it isn’t as far behind on the competition as you’d expect for a six year old game, not to mention that Nordic Games have done their best to change things up and add new abilities to this game to differentiate it from previous entries in the series.
Spellforce 2: Faith in Destiny starts off as a regular RPG, with two heroes fighting their way through a world, gaining experience and leveling up. You gather gear, spend your talent points, complete the various quests and find yourself on the road to playing a generic RPG similar to all those you’ve played in years past all the way back to those classic text based adventures.
This soon changes though when you find yourself in control of a base, assigning your minions to gather resources and training an army. It’s all a bit Command & Conquer at this point, mixed in with some Baldur’s Gate While still in control of your hero and his allies, you now too control the army you’ve built, the switch from small hero group to commander of an army is surprisingly easy and fluent.
Throughout the game you are introduced to the story of the game through several cut scenes and conversations. There are several portals in the world that connect the islands that are broken. There is a race of demons that nobody knows anything about and have been dubbed “The Nameless” that is trying to invade the world after having been banished a long time ago. You play a Shaikan, a hero with dragon’s blood which not only plays a large role in the story, it also helps you in combat by bringing extra abilities. This all takes place in a medieval setting where elves, orcs and dwarves use magic in their day to day lives. Sadly, the story isn’t very enticing, as there just isn’t anything to pull you in. There is no music to make it more exciting, the images don’t show anything new, the dialogue is weak and the facial expressions lack the emotions to confirm or deny whether someone made a joke or not. It’s the typical plot for a fantasy RPG, with an abrupt end.
You start off by fighting groups of enemies, which is easy at the start but slowly gets more difficult as you face larger groups. Not only is it more difficult because the groups are stronger, but as they get more numerous the difficulty of using a proper tactic also increases. As you level and gain more powerful spells you wish to use the powerful spells on your enemies, but when faced with large groups it also becomes difficult to use the spells in your fights. The tab button helps you with this as it targets the strongest enemy, but the combat remains difficult and the lack of other hotkeys can be the cause for some frustrating moments.
The hacking and slashing sadly becomes rather repetitive and the quests limit themselves to the usual grab this and kill that. A cool addition to Spellforce 2: Faith in Destiny is that it is a hybrid between a RTS and a third-person RPG game. To match these two game modes up in such a way that you can easily tackle each aspect, you are able with a click of a button to switch between the two typical camera settings for an RPG and an RTS. Switching from an army controlled with a birds-eye view to third-person when levelling up is a simple but elegant thing which looks very cool. Sadly though there is no real benefit for it (oddly) and you end up using it very little as the targeting and combat controls are difficult from the birds-eye view point.
Switching from hero control to army control will take a switch in mindset, not because of the difficulty of the controls but because the enemy will no longer wait for you to make the first move and you will be faced with groups of enemies charging your base. The computerised strategy mainly revolves around building large waves of units and sending them to your base which can become rather predictable and will allow you to build your defenses accordingly. The mechanics to build your base work well and it’s easy to build units, buildings and get a good economy going. It gets more difficult when you wish to control your army. If you don’t take close control of your units you will find them running all over the war field and you will soon find yourself lacking several units.
Faith of Destiny does have some shortcomings such as the lack of auto saving which can leave you in trouble if you don’t save often, especially since there’s no possibility to restart the map. This can lead to bigger problems when you’re stuck on a save with no way out but death, as even after dying you only have the option to open a saved game. The lack of hotkeys can bother if you’re typically a powerkey user. It just makes finding the right spell or move quickly when you need it that much harder.
The pacing of the campaign is pretty slow with large maps and simple but time consuming quests. Destroying enemy camps is often impossible without the largest sized armies, even on the easy or normal difficulty setting, and getting the resources for armies this size takes a lot of time. Together with the quests that have you gather several items for the best equipment, it can leave you a little bored. Despite these shortcomings and lack of polish Spellforce 2: Faith in Destiny is an enjoyable and simple game to play. The price is low and brings you simple pleasures and a bunch of hours in single player mode, and if the single player is too boring for you the multiplayer brings a lot more fast paced RTS combat your way.