Age of Wonders  Shadow Magic

Review

posted 8/25/2003 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
Shadow Magic’s single player campaign continues the story from the previous AoW titles. Merlin has gotten himself trapped in the Shadow Realm, while an over-zealous Emperor Phobius is working to wipe the Wizards from the face of the world. And the hideously evil Shadow Demons seem to be quite happy with the way the seemingly righteous Phobius is handling things. Merlin is able to contact a few Wizards from his prison in the Shadow Realm, and he recruits these Wizards to battle the new threat from the Shadows.

Game play is similar to previous Age of Wonders titles, and veterans of the series will find it easy to jump right in. Cities are the main production facilities of the game, producing units and some amount of gold and mana. Various structures on the overland map, such as mines and windmills, can be claimed by a player to increase income. Armies of units move about the map, clashing with other players, conquering opposing towns, and claiming various structures. In addition to the race-specific units, hero units can be hired to help in conquering and looting. Heroes are special units that have the ability to carry magical items, and are generally a bit sturdier than non-heroes. In addition, heroes have the ability to gain far more experience levels than their non-hero counterparts, and can gain special abilities at each of these level increases. In this way, heroes are customizable by the player, giving a bit of a RPG feel to the turn-based strategy.

The most important unit is the Wizard, a special hero unit vital to the player. The Wizard doesn’t gain experience, rather, the Wizard busies him- or herself with learning powerful and world-altering spells. The Wizard can certainly adventure right along with the rest of the armies, but that puts these somewhat fragile heroes in quite a bit of danger. Wizards do much better to find themselves a Wizard’s Tower, a city structure that projects a “domain”, an area of the map over which spells can be cast. In this way, Wizards can sit back in the relative safety of these towers and still throw spells anywhere in their domain. Non-Wizard Hero units also project a small area of domain, allowing the Wizard to cast spells around their Heroes on both the overland and tactical combat maps.
Page 2 of 3