Warhammer: Mark of Chaos PC DVD-ROM
Published by Deep Silver
Developed by Black Hole Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Given the popularity of the Warhammer franchise and also given the popularity of fantasy flavoured RTS games, it’s surprising that we haven’t had a whole lot more Warhammer titles to date (not including the Warhammer 40,000 series). It’s even more surprising when you consider the scope of the franchise and all the source material that would be available to help create a rich and interesting game world. Warhammer: Mark of Chaos offers the classic mix of medieval and fantasy combat style that the franchise is known for and by all accounts, it’s a solid RTS.
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos has arrived around the same time as Medieval II: Total War and when you also take into account that the games share some similarities, it’s no surprise that comparisons are being drawn between the two games. Both feature real-time battles and offer the chance to build up your forces in a turn-based phase before the battles. There are some differences though. For a start Medieval II is a completely non-linear affair where your actions on the campaign map are just as important as your actions on the battlefield (sometimes doubly so). In Mark of Chaos there’s no diplomacy or special actions as such and in truth it’s completely linear with the decision making concentrating solely on how you develop your forces. The game offers two single-player campaigns, one for the Empire and the other for the Hordes of Chaos. There’s also a multiplayer mode where you can play either online or over a LAN and you’ll also be able to customise your armies and take part in normal battles, castle sieges etc.
Between battles you can visit the Temple, Armoury, Barracks and the Alchemist. You can replace the lost soldiers in any unit, purchase new units, upgrade their weapons and armour and you can even give them special items to improve their performance. Prior to the commencement of a battle you’re taken to the army composer screen and here you’ll get to decide which units you take in to battle. You’re only allowed to take a certain amount of units into battle so you’ll have to choose wisely. Your units will gain experience and level-up making them more valuable and making it preferable that they are kept alive, which can only be a good thing. For the most part the battles are pretty much run of the mill stuff, although the various abilities of the games Hero characters help to put a different spin on the proceedings. Hero characters can take part in duels with enemy hero characters and these battles offer their own strategic choices.
Mark of Chaos is a good RTS but there are some areas where the game could have been better. The story is not that interesting and isn’t really that involving. Sure, fans of the franchise will no doubt be able to overlook this flaw but those just looking for a good fantasy based RTS will not be so forgiving. The campaigns could have been non-linear affairs that truly allowed you to do as you pleased. Essentially you’re given very little say in how the whole thing pans out and whilst this is forgivable to an extent, it pretty much nullifies the replay value. We also experienced a few bugs such as the one that would freeze the game when trying to setup a multiplayer game.
Visually there’s little to complain about as Mark of Chaos looks very good. Even when zooming right in during a battle the various units are impressive. The various spells used in the game look pretty good, although they aren’t as visually impressive as some we’ve seen in RTS games. As with most games you can alter various graphical settings and it’s good to see that even when running the game on medium details it still looks very respectable. The game is something of a resource hog however and loading times are rather on the long side, which can be a little irritating at times. Frame rates can fluctuate during large battles irrespective of your system specifications or graphical detail settings.
Mark of Chaos is mostly OK for deaf gamers, although there are some omissions. The spectacular introduction movie, for instance, isn’t subtitled. Mission introductions and mission briefings are subtitled. All tutorial messages are shown in text too. During the tutorials you’ll occasionally miss out on some dialogue as you’ll be asked to open one of the various panels and this goes directly over the tutorial text. This is a little unfortunate but thankfully there is a Dialogue History button and clicking on this allows you to review all of the dialogue that has been spoken. Some comments on the battlefield aren’t subtitled but all of those apart from the odd word or two that is spoken when you give orders to a unit can be recalled in the Dialogue History panel. All objectives are shown in text and the objectives can be recalled at any time by clicking on the Quest button.
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos is certainly an RTS that’s going to appeal to fans of the franchise. The multiplayer battles especially should prove to be very appealing to Warhammer enthusiasts and it’s a nice touch how your armies can be customised and different battles can be fought. As a single-player experience the game isn’t so great though. The story is fairly uninspiring and the campaigns are just too linear for their own good. Those only looking for a single-player experience might find the game an average RTS experience. All things considered it’s a good RTS which fans of the genre, especially those who are also interested in the Warhammer franchise, should definitely have a look at.
The single-player game could have been better but the multiplayer side of the game is definitely something Warhammer fans will appreciate.