Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March Review

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Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Developer: Black Hole Entertainment

Platforms: Xbox 360 and PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB nVidia GeForce FX or ATI 9600, 3 GB HD space, internet connection, Windows XP or more recent operating system

Whether by the Hordes of Chaos or the Empire, villages and cities in the world of Games Workshop's Warhammer are always being ravaged by one force or another. In this real-time strategy adaptation of the turn-based tabletop strategy game, maraud as an Imperial army or orcish horde in the seemingly eternal war that plagues the Old World.

Kyle Ackerman

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March works far better than its Xbox 360 counterpart, Warhammer: Battle March. Unfortunately, it's not a whole lot more game than was released as Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. It's a "stand-alone expansion" that adds new campaign content and units to the real-time strategy game already released for the PC. If you already own the original Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, you don't need Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March unless you live for the multiplayer game. And if you don't already own the game, there's probably a better real-time strategy title available for your gaming pleasure.

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle MarchWarhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March isn't plagued by the horrible interface issues of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, but it could still learn a lot from the polished user-interfaces of long-running real-time strategy franchises. The real problem is that the game doesn't match up with the competition as a real-time strategy game, and it gets away from Warhammer's roots as a tabletop turn-based strategy game. The tabletop game is incredibly detailed, but much of that charm is lost as the PC game can be a struggle to properly position units or take advantage of a hero's special abilities. It transforms the game from contemplative to frenetic in a way that is unlikely to please dedicated RTS gamers and will disappoint fans of the tabletop game.

There's no resource management within individual matches, and the resource management in the campaign basically comes down to making sure enough of your experienced units survive so that you don't run out of funds. I had to get a fair distance into the campaign before my army got interesting, so it's important that Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March does a good job with heroes. Heroes can be joined with units or wander on their own, collecting items to make them more powerful, casting spells, buffing troops or dueling enemy heroes. With a little stretch of the imagination, it's possible to get attached to heroes, and fear their deaths for more reasons than mission restrictions.

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle MarchThe single-player campaigns are extensive, expanding on what was available in Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. Like the individual missions, the campaigns are linear, allowing players to pursue the occasional optional side-mission, but running through a series of battles that are as much puzzles as tactical exercises. I found the campaign to be longer than was fun, a change from my usual feeling about games. The battles for each campaign quickly felt repetitive, taking the same troops in to do roughly the same task in yet another identical-looking battlefield.

If only the game could be as cool as the cinematic cut-scenes, it might be truly satisfying, but the graphics are mediocre at best. While the graphics do a good job of rendering units from the tabletop game, what seems charming as a collection of hand-painted miniatures comes off as primitive and repetitive in a computer game when populating a drab, war-torn landscape.

Warhammer: Mark of Chaos - Battle March was at its best in the multiplayer skirmishes, because I could create my own custom army. It felt more like the tabletop game in that I was trying to put together the most useful, synergistic force with which to dispatch my foes. Battling a human opponent was more fun than facing the AI, but I often found myself wishing for turn-based controls and the tactical depth I enjoy in the tabletop game.

I find it hard to recommend Warhammer: Battle March, not just for real-time strategy fans, but particularly for fans of the tabletop strategy game. This may look like the game you love, but it's an entirely different beast, swapping vague real-time strategy for tabletop tactics.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 17, 2008 5:02 PM.

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