War Wind is a real-time strategy game created by Strategic Simulations Inc. It was an interesting attempt, but failed in a few regards and never gained the popularity that SSI was hoping for in order to break into the real-time strategy market.
Set upon the distant planet of Yauvan where humans don't exist, four races wage war for different reasons. The technologically advanced Tha'Roon who wish to rule over all of Yauvan, the warrior race Obblinox who believe in honor and wants a challenge worthy of their skill, the plant-like Eaggra who wish to free themselves from being enslaved by the Tha'Roon, and the primitive shamanistic tribes of the Shama' Li, who are fighting to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Each race has its reasons and its goals in this grand war, but only one can be victorious.
War Wind uses the left-click mouse button for selecting and ordering units, and the right-click button for deselecting. Right-clicking a unit reveals a menu which displays its different functions. The graphics are bright and it’s easy to identify objects at a glance. It's also intriguing to watch units move, fight, and die.
This game introduced a concept that never caught on. Instead of building a structure that produces soldiers, you build a structure, send a worker into it, and spend resource points to train the worker into a soldier. Yes, that means units can move into buildings. Regarding this, an interesting tactic is to hide your base defense force in houses and wait for the enemy to walk right into the center of your base before ambushing them. You can also enter enemy courthouses and steal resources. Because of this idea, players have to build Inns which allow them to hire workers, mercenaries, and occasionally heroes. But, you can only hire units that are actually inside the Inn, you cannot just click a "buy worker" button.
War Wind also introduces an interesting stealth system for units. Masked units do not appear on the mini-map, disguised units look like enemy units, hidden units are translucent, and invisible units cannot be seen at all. Unfortunately, only invisibility works against the computer AI, and masking is effective only in multiplayer against human opponents.
Another interesting idea is the Influence Bar. You gain influence by destroying enemy units and buildings or having your Clan Leader spend resources. You lose influence when your units and buildings are destroyed and when performing research. Influence affects how fast new units appear in your inns and your Clan Leader's War Cry power, which can be used only once per game.
A unique campaign feature is the ability to carry a few units over from one campaign mission to the next so you can keep your most powerful and expensive units with you throughout the campaign.
Each race has its own campaign which is played a bit differently. The Tha'Roon rely on keeping powerful units alive because of their high production cost. The Obblinox rely on their Warrior class units which are hard to destroy, yet have a very slow movement rate. The Eaggra rely on their Scout class units, can build units cheaply and quickly, and have the strongest buildings, but their units are easy to destroy. Finally, the Shama' Li have the most powerful spell casters and need to be close to melee range to get the most out of their combat units.
Instead of buying a general upgrade that affects all your units, you should buy bio-upgrades for units individually to boost their health, speed, sight, attack power, and stealth, as well as buy spells for each spell caster. This went along with SSI’s idea that in War Wind you would have small armies instead of massive ones like in Warcraft and Command & Conquer. However, it is more of a drain on your resources then an incentive to have a small army, while the computer AI has a massive army similar to other games.
One of the most interesting features is the buildings. Once a worker starts constructing one, it is already usable. You can stop construction once the building is usable, but that makes the building easy to destroy and once you stop the worker from constructing something, you have to spend even more resources to get the building up to full health.
There are no defensive structures other than walls and land mines. No towers to make an impossible wall of fire to advance through. War Wind is more of an offensive-style game rather than focusing on defense. If your Clan Leader dies, you instantly lose the game.
The user interface is poorly designed. Unless you memorize all the hotkeys, you will have to right-click a unit to build buildings, train units, buy bio-upgrades for it, cast spells, etc. When you access a unit's menu, the unit stops moving and fighting and just stands there doing nothing until you deselect it or select something from the right click menu.
Aside from a mini-map, Influence Bar, Clan Leader portrait, health bar, and the selected unit's stats, there is no interface in the normal sense (no unit order bar or any other interface that most real-time strategy players are used to, just a large portion of the screen used for controlling units).
The game also has some major flaws, some of which I will outline here. Firstly, its difficulty level is way too high, with no way to lower it. The computer AI can also see everything on the map while the player is stuck in Fog of War, thus making it necessary in some cases to use the Reveal Map cheat code in order to even the playing field. The AI specifically hunts your Clan Leader in custom games, starts with superior numbers, pre-built bases, and an excessive amount of resource points. It is almost necessary to use the Strategy Walkthrough manual (which includes the list of cheat codes) that was shipped with the game to beat the campaigns. Secondly, unless you memorize the hotkeys, you won't be able to keep up with the AI in most regards. Third, because of the excessive difficulty level, only one or two of the custom game maps and modes are actually playable without being wiped out less than five minutes into the game. Fourth, War Wind's concept and design would have worked so much better as a turn-based game, which was the area in which SSI excelled. All the game features are designed for a turn-based game, but have been shoehorned into a real-time strategy. Fifth, there are never enough resources on any given map and you are forced to rely on the Gain Resources cheat code in order to win.
The campaign is playable, and through trial and error you can figure out how to win if you read the mission description very carefully. Make sure to save at the end of every mission and always keep a couple of workers in your list of transferable units, as many missions don't give you enough to start with, sometimes none at all.
War Wind was an ambitious attempt to create a game that was different from the others, but it would have been better as a turn-based game, and it needs a way to turn down the difficulty from "Only God Has a Chance" to "Maybe Regular People Can Win." Unfortunately, War Wind was one of the few "bad" games created by Strategic Simulations Inc., and was a failed attempt to gain a foothold in the fast growing real-time strategy market.
If you wish to win, keep your units alive by sending them to your Tech Center for healing, or if you are the Eaggra or Shama' Li, keep on casting Rejuvenative Touch or Healing.
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Posted on: 2013-03-01 by dr_gatoso