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by Xicat Interactive

DWBeginning-Stage-01.jpg (3543 bytes)When the title on the box and the title in the game itself don’t match, it’s typically an indication that the game you are about to play is going to be a lemon. Demonworld: Dark Armies, or Demonworld 2: Dark Armies as the opening cinema would lead you to believe, is a horrible, horrible game.

Demonworld just seems to ooze lameness out of every orifice. If it isn’t the naming mix up, it is the ugly graphics. If it isn’t the fact the game tries to reinstall itself every time you insert the CD, it is the extremely poor control scheme. In the real time strategy genre, there are several excellent games out on the market already, so why anyone would bother with a buggy, poorly made game such as Demonworld is beyond me.

DWMain-Screen-01.jpg (8250 bytes)The graphics in Demonworld are just atrocious. Not only are the characters blurry to the point where you can’t tell different types of units apart, but they are tiny as well. The game forces you to play at 1024 x 768 resolution, which, for most RTS games is not the optimal resolution because everything becomes so small. The characters are tiny, and the game text itself was almost too small to be able to read it comfortably. Special effects used for magic spells and explosions are unspectacular at best. At a time when home computers are capable of producing fantastic looking graphics, why a developer would even bother making a game that looks this horrible boggles the mind. Sadly, the sound is just as uninspiring as the graphics--the same metal on metal clang, screams, and explosion sound effects that you have heard in just about every other game out on the market. The music alternates from being boring and repetitive beyond belief to so annoying it is painful to listen to. The graphics and sound in Demonworld definitely miss the mark.

The saving grace of many games that suffer from horrid graphics and sound is the game play itself, but like all other areas, Demonworld fails to deliver. In the campaign mode, the game tries to tell a fantastic story of a war between three factions, but you never really have any sense of what exactly is going on. The history between the Empire, the Dwarves, and the Orks is never disclosed and the "story" that the game follows picks up out of nowhere. The actual game play missions vary from large battles to defending cities, but the mission descriptions are so bad that it is difficult to determine what the actual objectives of each mission actually are.

DWStatistics-01.jpg (8524 bytes)Controlling the game is just as frustrating. Rather than have individual units, you have formations of several units. Each soldier has its own hit points, but you control them as an entire formation rather than separate units. Right clicking while a unit is selected allows you to cycle through available commands for that unit. This allows you to move or attack. But, if you want to cast a spell, you have to make sure nothing is selected, and then right click and cast the spell. There are dozens of situations like this where clicking through menu after menu will perform certain actions in certain situations, but not all of them. The control scheme doesn’t make much sense, and to this day I don’t think I even understand it all. A little common sense used during the development of the control scheme would have gone a long way.

When you actually figure out how to move your characters around, you will find that they get stuck on the landscape quite often and sometimes will run around the map at twice their normal speed. When giving your units commands, you will find that more often than not, half or more of the soldiers will just stand there while it is a 50/50 chance that the others actually do what you ordered them to do. Even the computer soldiers seem to have these same problems as they will stand stationary and get pummeled or will wander the map randomly.

DWMap-01.jpg (8728 bytes)It takes soldiers to have an army, right? Well, it also takes gold to recruit the soldiers and there is never enough. Gold is very hard to come by, and if you don’t have enough during a mission, it’s s tough luck and you have to start over again. You are not given new soldiers after every mission and have to use whatever is left from the last one. Keeping these remaining soldiers healthy as well as recruiting new soldiers will drain your gold supply down to nothing. No gold, no soldiers, no chance in hell to win, no reason to play this game.

Demonworld: Dark Armies is one of the worst PC games I have ever played. The graphics, sound, control, and everything in between is poorly executed and really is inexcusable when compared to other real time strategy games. Unless you enjoy squinting at bad graphics, struggling with poorly implemented controls, and being frustrated at just how stupid the A.I. is, avoid Demonworld: Dark Armies at all costs.

Eric Qualls   (03/07/2002)


Ups: It should be in the cheap games rack very soon.

Downs: Bad graphics; sound; control; AI.

Platform: PC