Warlords III: Darklords Rising
Windows - 1998
Description of Warlords III: Darklords Rising
It's 5am. Once again, I will see the dawn rise over the skyscrapers. Once again, I will hear the melodious words of my wife as she wakens, "are you still playing that damn game"? Again I am drawn down the spiral staircase of addiction towards the land of Illuria. And all because of that bastard Steve Fawkner. He just had to go and create the perfect game. Good news is that I am training my body to survive on two hours of sleep, a skill that will come in handy in my geriatric years when my prostate acts up every ten minutes. Bad news is that I can't stop playing Warlords 3: Darklords Rising. For those who have weak self-control (or even weak bladders), do not read any further because you too will become ensnared in the cruelty that is the AI of Roger Keating.
Heaven is a Quest or Two Away
Warlords 3: Darklords Rising is not just a good game. It is heroin. It is crack cocaine refined to a purity so great that the game actually talks to you. The CD jewel case and the manual sit beside the computer, even while I type these words, taunting me into playing again. "You know you want to, Dean". "Just one more game". Few games can boast of this ability. Darklords Rising is one of the very select few. It is a stand alone sequel to Warlords 3: Reign of Heroes - a great, though flawed game in its own right (our resident Game Guru, Tim Chown, gave it a Silder Award when he reviewed it last year, citing that "Warlords 3 has enough gameplay to feed a ravenous orc horde). Besides the ill advised venture into full-motion video (that resoundly stupid Old Boney popping up every so often to taunt you), the game lacked a scenario or map editor (though there was a full campaign and a random map generator) and had other failings (simplified and unstrategic vectoring system). But given the pedigree of Warlords, you knew that Fawkner, Keating and the rest would produce the goods for gamers. After all, this is a group that cares about gamers. They actually listen to complaints and suggestions, many of which are incorporated in patches and future games.
Goblins to the left of me, Centaurs to the right
For the uninitiated among us, Darklords Rising is the prototypical grand fantasy strategy game. You start most games with a lowly hero and a capital and must go forth and conquer any and all that dare to defy your omnipotence. Strategy centers on the control of cities. The more cities you have, the more units you can produce and support, the more gold and mana you can create. The game therefore involves a lot of combat. Each hero and unit comes with its own set of combat modifiers (both positive for your side and negative for the fool in your way). As heroes gain experience, they also gain skills and abilities that help during battle. There is no tactical combat capability, but there is a very good combat engine. Combat bonuses (leadership, chaos, morale, fear, fortification, siege, plus any hero, unit, terrain and city factors) are calculated for both sides and the dice are tossed. Some may whine about the lack of any tactical combat options, but it is only a quick knee-jerk reaction. Up to eight armies can be stacked together for combat. The manual, which should be mailed to every game publisher as an example of what a manual should be, provides clear descriptions of how combat occurs. Naturally, the best way to win is to create stacks that take advantage of as many modifiers as possible.
Unlike the Civilization series, you don't have to micromanage your cities. You can upgrade your city defense and buy production, but that's about it. Each city may or may not have specific sites that add to the treasury or adds to units produced there (like a stable that produces better horses). Each race has its own unique armies, which adds tremendously to the replay value of the game. In theory, a game played on the same map with a different race is a whole different game. The outstanding game setup options and the random map generator (besides the scenarios/campaigns and editors, but more on them later) also increases replay value.
Heroes can perform quests to gain experience and booty, and explore ruins to gain a magical trinket, gold or allies. You can win without having powerful heroes, but it sure is a damn sight harder. A strong leader with good modifiers and a few magical trinkets can take the lowliest dwarf runner and turn it into a force to be contended with. When a city is captured, you can choose to occupy it, sack or pillage it for the gold, or raze it. Note: since each army has unique units, I always pillage a city - since you most likely can't use any of the city's armies anyway, might as well just sack the thing and buy your own units. Razed cities can be rebuilt (more on this later). Captured cities can have their defensive fortifications upgraded for a price.
Darklords Rising is glorious to look at. The interface is clean and slick, a Fawkner tradition. It gives you an top-down view of everything with attractive and realistic maps to play with. Each unit is animated and every unit, hero, item, castle and place has its own hand-pained scene, which adds a nice Tolkeinish touch to things. Every report and graph you could possibly wish for is but a mouse click away. Diplomacy is handled simply but quite well, and, unlike previous versions, the AI will not simply gang up on you once you take the lead. Sound effects are effective but sparse, and a good music score accompanies the game (one of the few where I have not been compelled to turn off immediately). Fawkner has also added a great tutorial for those new to the series. All m/p options are supported (as well as a great email capability) and the game can be played on the Red Orb Zone or Mplayer (and hopefully soon Kali). Each Darklords Rising disk can support two players via spawning. In non-email games, the game reverts to simultaneous movement, which does take a little time getting used to, but is a great game engine for those who would rather avoid real-time gaming.
Much more than an add-on
Even though Darklords Rising uses the same engine and shell as Reign of Heroes, this is not a cheap knock-off add-on designed to empty the wallets of poor unsuspecting gamers. SSG has seriously delivered the goods here. The most glaring omission from Reign of Heroes, an editor, has been taken care of with a very powerful game and scenario editor. While gamers can not create their own units (which you could in Warlords 2 Deluxe but the complexity of Warlords 3 animations makes an unit editor a non-starter), gamers can do everything else, including creating specific items for their own games and scenarios. Want to re-create the Sword of Shannara? Done. Without question the most clear, clean and self-contained set of editors in the business. NOTE TO ANYONE: I would be much obliged if someone were to make up a good Lord of The Rings scenario, including all relevant rings and magical items.
The second cry from gamers was for more campaigns (Reign of Heroes came with one campaign only, though that was tempered by the random map generator). There are four new campaigns (two long and two short), plus fifteen new stand-alone scenarios PLUS all the scenarios from Reign of Heroes and the campaign from the game. As a reference point, one of the scenarios, Illuria, represents the entire game from the original Warlords and alone will kill a week or so of your life. Gamers, especially those who were spoiled by the unit editor in Warlords 2 Deluxe, wanted more heroes and more units. SSG delivered by giving gamers 31 new armies (for a total of 95) and five new hero types (for a total of fifteen), all of which have their own special skills and attributes.
The biggest game complaint towards Reign of Heroes was the unstrategic vectoring option. Basically, it allows armies that are built in city A to appear in city B after a few turns (the time it takes to vector from one city to another). The problem was that the game did not differentiate between cities right next door to each other and ones a few continents away. The game vectored everything in two turns. In Darklords Rising, vectoring time is dependent on distance. Cities a long haul away can expect delays of three, four or five turns, a much more fair and realistic idea. Gamers also have the option of turning vectoring off altogether. Another game complaint was the inability to rebuild razed cities. In many games of Reign of Heroes, your opponent (human or otherwise) would initiate a scorched earth policy and destroy all nearby cities, effectively killing off your ability to compete. Darklords Rising adds an option to rebuild razed cities at the cost of 800gp. You can also set aside quests (with a three turn/no quests penalty), a welcome addition to the game (shades of getting that mammoth "kill the heathen on the other side of the world" quests).
Just in case gamers thought that there were not enough spells, skills and abilities in the game, SSGadded a few more (19 new spells and 9 new abilities for a total of 35 spells and 25 abilities). New animations have also been added for combat, such as an exploding skull (undead) and acid hitting a helmet. SSG also added a whole rack of random map control parameters and game types, as well as new victory conditions. Finally, just in case nobody was paying attention, Keating improved the AI even more. Keating already is at the top rung of game AI programmers, and Darklords Rising just adds to his legend. While the AI naturally does not play as unpredictable or as challenging as a human, its pretty damn close. I played a game where the AI just went after my heroes, which really pissed me off. Another time it did a totally human move - it sent its hero off to explore all the ruins and gave the city capturing duties to any allies it picked up. Though I am older now and the AI does not humble me as much as it used to, I still shake my head sometimes at how intuative and deceptive it is. A big part of the popularity of the Warlords series is due in part to Keating's AI, and once again he has upped the bar. The best AI in strategic gaming just got even better. Kudos.
Fawkner and Keating and Trout oh my
If you have never played Warlords 3: Reign of Heroes, then Darklords Rising is beyond a must-have (if you have never played any of the Warlords series I have to question your gaming credentials). But what if you already own the previous chapter? Is this game worth shelling out an extra $39.95 (or in Canada $79.95)? Yes. Most definitely. Without a question (well one question - can Reign of Heroes owners play campaigns/scenarios created by Darklords Rising owners? I'm not sure of the answer but I hope that this is possible). Darklords Rising gives gamers everything that was present in Reign of Heroes and adds everything that gamers screamed for. A more customizable AI so newbies can play with grizzled veterans. New armies, heroes, skills and abilities and spells. The ability to rebuild razed cities and to set aside quests. New game types, new victory conditions, new terrain types and an improved AI (already a Keating trademark). Most importantly, a game and campaign editor. I am trying to think of what else that could have added to the value to improve it, but I can't think of anything. All I know is that putting this game on my hard drive has just crushed my non-game writing ambition. I am contemplating a lawsuit against Fawkner and Keating, citing my lack of income generated due to the addictive nature of their gameplay programming, but my lawyer says I would be laughed out of court (unless the judge himself had played a Warlords game. Hmmm.). Fawkner and Keating are on par with Meier/Reynolds and Gary Grisby in producing games that force you into a hermit mode and cause you to abandon family, friends, pets, sex and food (though not necessarily in that order). Warlords 3: Darklords Rising is at the apex of strategy gaming.
Review By GamesDomain
Captures and Snapshots
Comments and reviews
Negern 2019-09-01 -2 points
I'd really recommend trying out Warbarons. It's like an online version of Warlords. It's played like distance chess, one turn at a time, sent between the players.
My nick there is Negern.
Just send me a message and I'll help you learn the basics!
SpaceAlien 2019-08-20 -10 points
I have windows 10 and I love this game. I want to download it, will it work?
walfänger 2019-03-18 0 point
Okay, problems solved. Just keep it mounted before starting the game!
Walfänger 2019-03-17 -3 points
...and when I try to start the game, a box appears saying "Warning! You are low on disk space! This may effect gameplay!"
Walfänger 2019-03-17 -2 points
Thanks Dopietro for your instructions. I followed them one by one and everything worked just fine! I played for an hour and saved the game. Now I want to resume but can only start multiplayer mode... Any hints for me? What can I do do get this started again?? I also have bought the original box on ebay. When I install that version, I get the "freezing problem"!
MINOTAUR 2018-10-22 -1 point
I’ve solved the problem by using oracle virtual box. I’ve installed XP in win7. I advise you this method.
Rob 2018-10-10 0 point
@Minotaur Try to mount ISO (via Daemon Tools or similar) and keep it mounted during gameplay. Its very possible your symptoms are the effect of simple DRM protection.
minotaur 2018-09-23 1 point
my pc is win7-64 bit. i've downloaded the setup file and installed, done the -wincursor, click run admin and compatibility win7. but still can't play. after 30 sec, it's freeze.
can anyone help me?
thanks a lot.
BOrak 2018-08-31 0 point
Follow all instruction and game is working, but the color display is all mess up. Using win7 64bit.
Logan B. 2018-07-20 0 point
I've tried to download this game, though every time I do it says 'download failed- No File', though it worked with Reign of Heroes, that just needs the patch and that one won't freeze up anymore. though this, i'm not sure how to fix
kmaz 2018-07-02 2 points
Not sure why, got it working, but instead of playing the game music it's pulling music from my itunes folder??
Kanesaw 2018-05-13 -1 point
So is this an expansion to Warlords III: Reign of Heroes or something? How is this related?
Lord Bane 2018-03-31 -3 points
I have managed to follow all of Dopietro's instructions except for the part about patching the game to 1.02. How do you get the patch to work on Windows 10? I get a "This app can't run on your PC" message
Kylmis 2018-02-22 -2 points
"C:\Program Files\Red Orb Entertainment\Warlords III - Darklords Rising\Darklord.exe" -wincursor
Works fine after that! And remember use .cue to mount. Amazing music and best strategy game ever.
maximus 2018-01-17 4 points
It only allows me play multiplayer and not the single player campaign
Isak 2018-01-04 1 point
Dopietros instructions actually work, but in the end I had to run in Win XP compatibility since some DirectDraw was missing and I got an error message....
DOPIETRO 2017-10-27 2 points
Where do you appear the problems?
Did I explain bad, or is it not working?
adc 2017-10-16 0 point
Can't get this to work!!!
Grrr.... so sad.
I tried following DoPietro's instructions but dont know why it's not loving me back...
dopietro 2017-10-10 6 points
works fine under windows10 64bit:
- download the file and extract
- mount it as a disk
- copy all content to harddrive
- exchange the file /SETUP/IS_SETUP.EXE by a downloaded version of IS3engine from http://toastytech.com/
- run the new IS_SETUP.EXE and install the game
- patch it to version 1.02
- create a desktop icon to darkloard.exe and add the -wincursor command
- run the game and enjoy (do not use any compatibility modes to run it)
C 2017-08-08 2 points
I haven't tried the download from here, but from using other versions you need to install it on a 32-bit machine and copy the files (and registry stuff) to a 64-bit machine to get it working on one of those (if you're using such a machine).
Alternatively, use a virtual machine (e.g. VMware) to play it, that should work too.
Oh, and if it freezes randomly, try adding "-wincursor" to the end of the shortcut. Worked for me.
Best of luck getting it working!
Hom Tanks 2017-08-06 0 point
I need instructions on how to get this sucker running. Trying to do it for my pa, who loved this game when I was a kid.
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