Blood & Magic
People always say to me, my, you must have a great job. Playing games all day. You lucky bast. What they don't realise is that we have to play every game we're given all day. Whether we like them or not. It's great when you're reviewing Privateer The Darkening or F1GP2, but when you're forced to sit in front of a tedious pile of rubbish for the fifth day on the trot you soon wish you'd taken another career choice. Worse than that, though, is having to play games that have you screaming at the screen, *What happened? You could have been so good, but you're not? WHY?? I'm talking, of course, about games that fail to live up to potential.
Blood & Magic comes bursting from a genre that has proven itself to be a popular one, that of the Command & Conquer-style strategy game. But rather than adorning itself with new ideas and exciting concepts, it just sort of sits there doing nothing much in particular. It's got a licence attached, sure (that of the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms rpg), but it just seems to be C&C with magic instead of Tiberium and without the inherent level of strategic challenge that made the former so intense to play.
But I like elves
It's not as though a fantasy C&C wouldn't work, either. Warcraft 2 proved that the odd-shaped-dice rolling brigade enjoy a good scrap as much as the next man. But whereas Blizzard's game had lots of interesting ideas to contend with. Blood & Magic just gives you your initial concept and says, And that's your lot, matey.
Basically, you have to fulfill each scenario's victory conditions (kill all the enemy, destroy your opponent's buildings etc.) by first building up a store of mana (magical energy) and then converting said mana into troops by building the appropriate troopgenerating buildings. And then you send them off to fight on the ever-popular Civilization-style expanding map.
Doesn't sound too bad
All right. It's not the worst game in the world, not by a long shot. But it just doesn't really do enough to make any of it seem worth while. The fighting options are limited to just choosing your troops and pressing fight - no real strategic element. The resource management side is limited in that you can only build troop-generators on specific sites and since there are only ever two or three per map, you're limited in what you can create. The individual ai is a bit iffy at times, too. The old problem of selecting a person, telling him to walk to point a and then seeing him instantly wander off in the other direction hasn't been solved.
But behind all of the minor niggles (of which the above is just a small selection) is the much greater problem of a total feeling of apathy. I understand that B&M was held back for quite a while in the States and as well as explaining why the presentation looks about a year old, it didn't really do the game any favours. There's no energy, no feeling of life. You play some games and they provide you with an instant buzz. You get a feeling of excitement and adrenaline, even in complex strategy games, such as Command & Conquer, for example. You play Blood & Magic and you instantly feel as though you should be making a cup of Horlicks, putting on your pyjamas and preparing for bed. Which cannot be good.
Time For A Rant
Just what is going on in today's games industry, can someone fill me in? Why do games like Blood & Magic even exist in the first place? Unless you were to provide me with video evidence to the contrary, there is absolutely no way I can honestly believe that the game's lead designer walked into his office one day, assembled his team and said, Okay, guys, listen up. I've had this amazing new idea for a game...
I'm far more willing to believe that the situation was that the US branch of Interplay signed up the Forgotten Realms licence, looked around at what games were popular and said, Right, guys, do us one of them Command & Conquer games. They're popular. Now, I'm not arguing against variations on a theme. Warcraft 2 is a very enjoyable variation on C&C with more than enough diffences to make things worth while. What I am arguing against are variations on the variations of a theme. Interplay obviously said, Boys, make it a Warcraft 2-style game. Well, I'm sorry. There already is a Warcraft 2-style game. It's called Warcraft 2. If I've got that and enjoy playing it, why would I possibly want a different one?
I'm not just jumping down Interplay's throat here. This is a cancer that seems to have been infecting the whole fecking industry lately. Everywhere I look I'm seeing bandwagon games after bandwagon games. Fragile Allegiance, Z, Gene Wars, Afterlife, a hundred and one Carcade driving' games, a thousand and one Cbig-robot combat' games, a million or so 'Doom' games - someone gets a half-decent idea and before you can say, My, that's a half-decent idea, their game is no longer just a single title, but a new genre. Well, it ends here, my children. I'm calling for a revolution. You can make a difference if you're only willing to try. What do you have to do? Nothing. By which I mean, stop buying games for a while. If something is sitting on the shelf that has a number after its title, don't buy it. If a game comes along that's been done before - don't buy it. If the games stop selling, the companies twill stop producing them. And then the path will be left clear for the real designers out there. The people with real and imaginative ideas. But it's up to you. It really is.
Download Blood & Magic
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode