Battle Mages: Sign of Darkness Preview
By Anthony R Brock
Battle Mages: Sign of Darkness is a RTS/RPG hybrid being developed by Buka Entertainment, a company based in Russia, and while I will (of course) reserve final judgment on the game for when the final product is released, I cannot say after playing this early preview copy that I have any wish to play the final product.
Buka is just stuck in a rut here trying to clone Warcraft III or perhaps even Spellforce, and they don't seem to want to innovate in the slightest, at least, not in any way that makes the game experience any better. They've done quite a few things to make this an inferior Warcraft clone, like mating a substandard graphics engine to missions that don't give you the first clue about what you are supposed to do, but they never seem to get the things right that made Warcraft III the great game that it was. I never actually completed a mission in Battle Mages due to the lack of a briefing on what I needed to accomplish, and I tried quite a few times. The typical game for me was: Start mission, stumble about for 15 minutes trying to figure out what I need to do, quit in boredom/frustration. The fact the preview copy was a mix of Russian and English didn't help, but that alone cannot be blamed as most of the text in the game was in English. Buka claims that one of the things that sets this game apart from others of its type is how “God” (I thought there were multiple Gods in these kinds of fantasy games?) comes down to the world and takes the form of a player hero for each mission. Huh? I never saw that. If it was done, it was done so poorly that I completely missed it.
Though this is only a preview of the game, I felt that the copy I received was somewhere near what the final will be like, and therefore I don't feel things look good for this game. We'll have a full review when it is released, so just consider this an early look. I just hope Buka is able to polish it up a lot before then, because Battle Mages: Sign of Darkness clearly needs all the polishing it can get.