Blood and Magic is a great little game by Interplay. It is the first RTS game to use the Dungeons & Dragons license. The game looks good and sounds good, but does have a few balance and replayability issues.
The graphics are great. The game is bright and colourful. The maps are varied enough to keep things interesting. All the units are easily recognizable and the animations work well. The face graphic for each of the units is particularly well done as are the cut-scene pictures during the campaigns. The graphics really help draw you into the fantasy setting.
The sound work in this game is outstanding. For one thing, the music fits the game well and remains pleasant in the background. The combat sounds are very distinct and recognizable, from the twang of a ranger’s bow, to a dying warrior’s scream. What really stood out though was the voice acting. None of the units actually say anything, but the narrator’s comments - “Your followers are under attack,” and “Your druid is ready.” - really sticks with you. Almost everything is narrated so you’ll hear his voice a lot, but it never actually gets too annoying. The voice acting for the cut-scenes is very enthusiastic and colourful. The sounds in the game, like the graphics, do their job in making the fantasy world come alive.
The game itself, like most RTS games, is simple and repetitive. In each game you play you must make as many troops as you can, as fast as you can, and crush the enemy or destroy the enemy’s keep.
Resource gathering is a little bit different in this game. There is a unit known as a "Basal Golem" which, when not moving, transforms into a pyramid and slowly produces mana. The mana gathers up in the golem, up to a limit of 10 points, and then it is up to you to transfer the mana into your resource pool. You can then use that mana to create more Basal Golems. The Basal Golems can then be transformed into structures. Then the Basal Golems that are next to structures can be transformed into various units.
This presents the main problem in Blood and Magic. Essentially, you wait a for a few minutes at the start of a level until you have a solid base of golems, then once you have reached a certain number, you can continually make more and more and more. Essentially your growth gets out of control and it’s a simple case of sweeping up the enemy. On almost every level I was able build up my golems for about 10-15 minutes, and then create several gryphons with which I would sweep away the enemy.
This takes us to the AI. Thankfully, the AI does not take advantage of the unlimited growth potential by making too many golems. But that’s about all that it has going for it. The AI does go out of its way to attack units with only 1 hp left, but employs no actual strategy otherwise. Its troops will be scattered most of the time and easy to pick off with a large group.
The game does have a campaign made up of five stories. Each story has three maps for a total of fifteen. You are also given the option of playing the good or evil side in each story. After you complete the campaign, you unlock the LEGENDARY campaign. You create a character by selecting an avatar, your name, and a color. You then proceed to fight through each of the 15 maps again, defeating a different opponent each time. Creating the character was a nice change, but I felt it took far too long to unlock that option. After the 15th map, you play the FINAL level. You must break open the gates to the plane of the gods and ultimately become an IMMORTAL!
The game tries to keep itself interesting by having new things to unlock down the road, for example, in the last campaign there are new monsters introduced as well as a giant cauldron. You have the ability to capture enemy units with your harpy and then drop them into the cauldron for mana. One of the most interesting points in the game is definitely the one level in which you had to defeat the JUGGERNAUGHT as well as the FINAL level which threw a whole bunch of new and exciting twists into the game. I won’t ruin them for you, but I was disappointed that such cool features were only found on the last level. More maps like that would have made the game a lot more fun.
One upside for the gameplay are the units you can create. They have enough variety and enough special abilities to keep it interesting until you discover them all. I did find that by the legendary campaign I was mostly resorting to gryphons because they were able to quickly fly around the map and destroy most of my enemies.
The interface is intuitive and easy to use. There is a nifty help button which can be used to learn about every skill, unit, or terrain type. The attack and defense of every unit is clearly shown when you select them. Plus there is a nice little tutorial that will quickly help you get acquainted with all the features of the game.
I’m going to give the game a 3/5 because I found it got repetitive way too quickly. I do find that with most RTS games, but in this case the same tactic worked on almost every single map, so it had very little variety. Oddly enough, the game is very charming, and even now I find myself wanting to play a quick map since it usually only took me about a half an hour to win. Blood and Magic is great for a casual game that doesn’t require too much thinking. If you like RTS games, definitely give this game a try.
Part of the Dungeons & Dragons games Series