Armies of Exigo
Fantasy RTS, a genre everyone will know by now due to the big hits, Warcraft 3 anyone ? The whole genre in known because the world is filled with creatures we don’t get to see in normal life like orcs and elves. And of course there are always a couple of humans that are trying to lead a peaceful life in between this bunch of, mostly, irregulars who like most to kick everyone else out of their world. To this goal, schemes are made along with temporary alliances a volonté, all in all a bit like Belgian politics. EA liked the concept and therefore released Armies of Exigo, a game that gives you the chance to clear the world from all the evil that’s roaming around. The question is only if Armies of Exigo can go beyond average or remains in the shadow of the big games that rule the genre. Find out in the following lines.
In Armies of Exigo there’s three different parties you can join to conquer the country and suppress the world to your own tiranny (why doesn’t anyone make a game about that for once ?). These parties are The Beasts, The Fallen and of course The Empire. A first glimpse in the accompanying technology tree immediately betrays for a big part where the makers found their inspiration: it looks a lot like the one you find in Warcraft 3. Despite the fact that you’ll often think you’re playing a WC3-clone the makers also have done their best to go as far away from this game as possible. More about that later.
Each side in AoE has different properties that need a different strategy. The Beasts will need their brains and conning while The Fallen on the other hand are more a magical group who rely on their spellcasting. The Empire on the other hand are a compilation of everything else you can imagine. Each side also has three different heroes who each have their own motivation to join the conflict and of course their own special abilities.
Each party consists out of a large number of units. The army of The Empire is built from humans and elves while The Fallen are fallen knights, dark elves and other spooky creatures from the underground world (later more about this). The Beasts on the other hand are trolls, monsters, lizardmen and more beasts. Each of these units is capable to get to a higher level and receive an additional bonus. During playing you’ll always have to look out well for your higher units so that you can use them in case of an emergency. These of course can make the difference between winning and loosing a battle.
The bonusses are different depending on race. With the Empire, certain fighter units have specific bonusses while The Fallen have the same bonus for each unit. Each of the parties also have their own buildings and units that include the resource gatherers. Of course research can be done for a super weapon that’s incredibly powerful but will need lots of time to research and it can be used only at certain times.
Throughout the entire game world you’ll find NPC buildings that can be occupied with a couple of units or you can do business in them. What makes this game special however is the use of the underworld. Below the entire map there’s a network of tunnels where you can send your troops in search of lots of things you can use or for means of transportation to other places. Because of this you’ll need to be alerted at all times as the attack can always come from different directions, even from under the ground.
To make sure it isn’t too easy, each camp has a different way to go to the underworld. First of all there are a couple of passages that are available for everyone but The Empire can make their way down anywhere they want by using their Miner Team. Very handy to raid a camp that way. The Fallen can call on units that exist underground to make life a living hell for armies that are wandering around there while The Beasts can call for demons and have also units that make breaks in the ground while being able to live both underground as on the surface. All in all this underground world gives access to a lot of renewing and exciting tactics and you’ll have your hands filled with defending your own camp and making sure you’ve got enough soldiers to be able to bring a stroke to the enemies’ forces.
The graphics are beautiful and of good quality but not as good as in Warcraft 3. The movies you get to see regularly are of very high quality and nicely support the story. The music is of equally high level as the movies.
Armies of Exigo is a game that’s put together pretty nicely and is definitely worth buying. The underground world leads to a whole type of new strategies and makes it not so easy due to the fact that you can be attacked from different sides. Real die-hard fans of the genre will probably feel left with their hunger because of the resemblences with Warcraft 3.