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"The once mighty army of Azeroth lay among the blackened charred remains of Stormwind Keep. Those that escaped fled across the great sea, bringing tales of the suffering they had faced at the hands of the Orcish Hordes. Eager to engage in battle once again, the Orcs constructed ships of war to bear them across the great sea. The Orcish warriors yearned for the sounds of battle to fill the air and looked to the far horizon for new blood to spill. Using the weapons forged by their new allies, the humans made haste to prepare for the onslaught. While cannons were being loaded, others armed themselves with Elven steel and nail. Now united in arms with new allies against the common foe, mankind stands at the shores of destiny and awaits the coming of the Tides of Darkness."

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Thus starts the introduction of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, the long awaited sequel to the original Warcraft released at the end of 1994 by Blizzard Entertainment. As the first episode, Warcraft II will plunge you into a bloody war between Orcs and Humans through two campaigns that depend on which side you decided to incarnate. These campaigns, divided into fourteen missions, feature various goals as destroying cities, regaining strategic places, escorting units, etc.

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The first mission for both sides is short, easy and can only be considered as a small tutorial rather than a true mission. As you must establish an outpost with some farms and a barrack, you will learn how to train peons for the edification of buildings and also for the harvest of wood and the exploitation of gold mines. If you have ever played with Warcraft, this won't take more than five minutes to familiarize yourself with the interface of Warcraft II because it is particularly easy to use.

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What makes Warcraft II even better than the original game are the SVGA graphics and the soundtrack. The high resolution brings an additional excitement to the game as units, buildings and terrains can be shown with many details. The animation also benefits from the higher resolution for the graphics as for the movements of the units which look very realistic. Over 50 minutes of music is featured on the CD for the soundtrack that will be played during the missions. Numerous scores sure add much to the intense and violent atmosphere of the game, highlighting combats and assaults throughout all the missions. You can change the options so that you don't hear the CD soundtrack during the game, but you will surely miss a critical element of the game.

The other new elements of Warcraft II are the additional units and buildings you can use. Not only will you discover new types of buildings, but also new units such as dragons, zeppelins, battleships, destroyers and submarines, making war in the air, on and under the seas. The buildings have an important role in the game as they provide your troops with support. The farms are necessary to feed your army, the barracks will train new soldiers and the Town Hall will provide peons to supply raw materials. Along with the two materials from Warcraft (wood and gold), Warcraft II adds oil produced by the oil platforms in the seas. Similar to the other two, you must find a source and send an oil tanker to build the platform on. Once it is done, you must establish an oil refinery on the shores to start stocking the precious oil. Although it won't be as necessary as wood and gold initially, oil will reveal itself very important when building ships and upgrading buildings. Of course, like other resources, oil wells have a limited capacity and when one comes to complete depletion, you should look for another one or destroy an enemy's platform to put one of your own instead.

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The various units you will have at your command are obviously not invincible and can therefore be reduced to ashes and bones in less time that is needed to say. One way to improve their resistance is to reinforce their weapons and their shields using both lumber mills and blacksmiths. The upgrades require quantities of gold and trees that increase with the number of upgrades. For example, the first quantity of gold necessary to upgrade the catapult is 1,500 units of golds and reaches 4,000 for the second upgrade. Specific buildings will train new units like Churches for Humans and Ogre Mounds for Orcs. The first one will allow you to train Knights and the second, two-headed Ogres. There are of course other buildings where you will produce powerful units capable of casting spells. The spells must be researched before you can use them through a process that will cost much gold.

As you can see, raw materials are essential if you want to win the battle. If you happen to miss one of them, you can't produce new units to replenish your army as you will inevitably sustain losses during fights. One thing I learnt with Warcraft II is to rapidly locate mines, forests and oil patches so that you can get an idea of where you must concentrate your efforts at first. Usually, mines are located closely from where you start, but as missions become longer as you progress in the game, you will need to exploit other mines. This consideration also applies to the oil patches but it especially true for the forests.

When you start a mission, the only region you can look at is where your units are located. If you want to see beyond that, you must send units to explore new territories. Once you discover new lands, they will be displayed on the map. As long as you have one or several units in place, you will be able to spot any enemy units in vicinity when the Fog of War option is turned on. If you move the units to another position, you will no longer be able to see your enemies in this region. This option can be turned off so that you are always aware of enemy presence on the revealed areas of the map.

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Warcraft II can be played by a single player with two separate story-lines to follow as Orcs or Humans. This unique feature greatly extends the life of the game and also contributes to its success by letting people choose which side they want to play with. The same duality between the good and bad guys that you find in the Star Wars universe appears in the game with people having sympathy for the destructive and ferocious Orcish Hordes while others will prefer exiled Humans and their allies symbolizing resistance and courage.

If the two campaigns are not enough for you, you can start playing with the scenarios included or play a multi player game. You can play with another player through a null-modem link or a modem connection with only one CD-ROM. Blizzard made this possible with their spawning technology that avoids for both players to have their own copy. The same technology applies when you want to play on a network where up to eight players can play simultaneously. There are however some changes regarding the number of original CD's required to play on a network. You can play up to three players with one CD, up to six players with two CDs and up to eight with three CDs. The multi player games always offer a better experience as there is no artificial intelligence that matches another human player (in good shape). Regarding the artificial intelligence implemented in Warcraft II, I personally think it was not very developed and the difficulty came more often from spare enemy units than from their strategic abilities. Most of the time, when you only had a group of peons with a few soldiers, your enemy had already a well-armed armada with battleships and submarines and an army ready to annihilate you. Fortunately, you will only suffer from small and repeated incursions into your positions that will force you to leave a small garrison to defend your buildings against attacks.

Finally, if you think the various campaigns and scenarios are no challenge for you, you can take a look at the map editor and create your own scenarios. There is even a sound editor that will let you change the sentences said by the units during the game. Both the map and the sound editor are Windows 95 applications and can only be executed if you have Windows 95 or Windows 3.1 with the WinG library from Microsoft installed.


Warcraft II is from far, the best episode of the series with astonishing graphics and cut-scenes. It has a compelling soundtrack that plunges you into the battle of Azeroth as if you were there yourself with the enemy lying all around you.

System Requirements:

486 DX-33 MHz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
MS-DOS 5.0 or later,
Hard drive required,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
SVGA video graphic card,
Microsoft mouse or 100% compatible.

Supports Redbook Audio; General Midi; Sound Blaster; Adlib; Pro Audio Spectrum; Gravis UltraSound and compatibles.

Windows 95 compatible.


Blizzard Entertainment,
P.O. Box 18979,
Irvine, CA 92713.

Technical support: 714-955-1382
Fax support: 714-955-1381
BBS support: 714-955-1481
Order line: 1-800-953-SNOW

Email: Blizzard Entertainment
Web site: www.blizzard.com


In North America:

See developers.

In Europe:

In France:

Ubi Soft,
28, rue Armand Carrel,
93108 Montreuil sous Bois Cedex.

Web site: www.ubisoft.com


Graphics: 93%
Sound: 92%
Music: 93%
Gameplay: 95%
Interest: 95%

Overall: 94%

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