Windows - 1996
Description of War Wind Windows
War Wind is SSI's outstanding entry into the crowded RTS arena that sadly received a lot less accolades that it deserves.
While some may dismiss it immediately as "just another WarCraft clone", the game is a much deeper strategy game with enough innovative features to qualify it above and beyond that label, so much so that I like it much more than WarCraft. At first glance, War Wind looks remarkably similar to WarCraft, and doesn't seem all that special. It is only after the first few hours of play that you will discover the game's deeper strategy gameplay and the intriguing fantasy gameworld that is much more fleshed out and interesting than WarCraft universe.
The game is set in the fantasy world of Yavaun, which is ruled by the imperialistic Tha'Roon race. Two other races, the Eaggra and the Obblinox, are under Tha'Roon control, while a third, the Shama'Li, remain unconquered.
You can start War Wind as any of the four races in four distinct campaigns, each with seven scenarios linked by excellent plot twists. Each race faces different challenges that exploit the special abilities and weakness of their kind. The Eaggra are characterized by their large numbers and good building skills, while the Obblinox are a tough warrior race. The independent Shama'Li are magic users with strong knowledge in ancient runes. Your objective in the game also varies depending on the race you choose. The Obblinox try to suppress the budding revolt but eventually join it, while the Eaggra need to gain their independence. The Tha'Roon have to fight all the races for themselves, and the Shama'Li just try to protect their ancient sites from destruction and even save members of another race.
Gameplay is similar to WarCraft II: create units, tell them where to go, and tell them to harvest resources or fight, all in real-time. Where War Wind is different is in the diversity of units, structures you can build, and the pacing of the game. The variety of buildings you can construct is greater, and many of these buildings may be used to study different technology classes in order to upgrade and create new units.
The ability to upgrade units is what makes War Wind much more fun and complex WarCraft. You can build a better army by studying in areas related to war, magic, and "bio-upgrades." Each unit can be equipped with a number of bio-upgrades to enhance such abilities as stealth, armor, speed, strength, and vision. For example, you can upgrade the stealth of a unit until it's invisible, but an opponent could also upgrade their units' vision to the point where they can see an invisible army. There are a lot of nuances to creating a good army, and it means more since you can save prized units in a "Hall of Heroes," carrying a core army from scenario to scenario. Choosing the right units for the Hall and then the right ones for each battle is crucial to winning the game.
All the other "standard features" of an RTS are included in War Wind. There is a map/scenario editor, head-to-head play, and excellent graphics and sound effects. There are also many features that make it even less of a WarCraft clone, that is, if you are still skeptical after reading this far ;) There are countless "neutral" monsters roaming the countryside (similar to the Fryhtans in Seven Kingdoms). And you will enjoy developing different spells (especially if you are the Shama"Li) and seeing them in action.
I have a few gripes about the game, although none is major enough to detract from our Hall of Belated Fame status. The enemy AI could use some improvement, some mission goals are vague, and certain maps have a "puzzle-like" quality about them, e.g. a crucial spell must be researched before you can proceed. This makes the game more rigid and less of a free-for-all fight than WarCraft, which some RTS fans might not like. I find the concept refreshing, though.
Simply put, War Wind is one of the best RTS games ever made. It is deep, engaging, and offers plenty of style and depth to keep you coming back for more. Also, check out War Wind II on this site if you like the game.
Review By HOTUD
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