Armies of Exigo Review
I think that it is not very good form to use other games as comparison points when reviewing a game, but sometimes the influences are so strong and so obvious that you do gamers a disservice by not mentioning them. In this case, when you first begin to play Armies of Exigo you may find yourself reaching for the game box to verify that the game is not the latest offering from Blizzard as the similarities to their Warcraft and StarCraft games are striking. The game harkens back to the day when every month saw a new StarCraft clone or two, but updated for the times with full 3D graphics and very high quality cutscene animation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the sources of inspiration are very good ones and you may be impatient waiting four years or so between RTS releases from Blizzard. So while Armies of Exigo won’t win any awards for innovation or originality, it may fit the bill for strategy gamers looking for some traditional RTS gameplay.
|The battles certainly look good.|
Armies of Exigo is set in the fantasy world of Noran. An empire formed under a human and elfin alliance is under siege from an orc-like Beast Horde, while the demonic Fallen launch their own plans of conquest in an attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy. The story is related through CGI cutscenes that are of really high quality – the character close-ups are particularly striking due to the life-like detail in the characters’ faces, hair, and expressions. The story is played out over 36 missions in the game’s campaign, and as you might expect the missions are evenly divided into sub-campaigns for each of the game’s three races.
The Empire consists of human and elfin units that will be familiar to strategy gamers; human knights, peasants, elfin archers, etc. The Beast Horde is made up of orcs, trolls, and their ilk. The Fallen are a demonic race that summon insect-like monsters to do their bidding. If you’re familiar with Blizzard’s games, think humans, orcs, and Zerg and you’ll pretty much have a picture of what each race is like. In fact, the Fallen can only build on “corrupted” land which they generate and that is effectively a purple version of the Zerg’s Creep. The Empire is a balanced race with a mix of standard and magical units, the Beast Horde have the more powerful units but they take longer to create, and the Fallen can quickly crank out its killer insects. The races are well-balanced, and although each requires a slightly different approach in order to be successful the races are similar enough that you can easily switch between them without much of a learning curve.
Each race collects the same three resources, wood, gold, and gems, and must send out legions of peons to harvest each type and haul it back to the corresponding primary structure. As you can probably guess, a productive economy is key to victory and the fight for resource sites is often the focus of battles. Building a strong economy is even more important in Armies of Exigo than in a lot of other strategy games because games of Armies of Exigo tend to be long and protracted wars of attrition. There are several reasons for this, the first of which is that it is relatively easy to build strong base defenses but it takes a long time to build an army and research upgrades. In battles for bases the defender has the natural advantage, so it is a waste of resources to send small groups of units to the enemy’s camp. The winner is usually the player who can wear down his or her opponent with successive waves of attacks to grind out the victory.