Think of Civilization, growing your empire across the world, hoarding all of the resources that you come across, and fending off rival civilizations. But instead of using ordinary soldiers to defend your empire, you rely on the services of powerful wizards with incredible spells. Their powers can change the map in an instant. However, your enemies also possess wizards, capable of summoning a fantastical army of myth and legend against you. So instead, you rely on the might and bravery of individual heroes who, with experience, become unstoppable killing machines. I am, of course, talking about Simtex’s 1994 classic Master of Magic, one of the cornerstones of the 4X strategy genre.
Elemental: War of Magic -- released in 2010 -- was intended to be its spiritual successor, in fact it was supposed to be an actual sequel until talks with MoM license owner Atari fell through. Nevertheless, Elemental faithfully carried the same concept forward, basking in the hype and anticipation for another stellar Stardock release. I myself pre-ordered the game, thinking that if it were anything like their Galactic Civilizations series they would have another home run on their hands. But poor judgment led to the release of a completely unfinished game that should not have seen the light of day. How it managed to pass beta testing and rudimentary quality assurance remains a mystery.
The game was so unfinished that several reviewers actually delayed their evaluation of the game until a few proper patches were released, out of respect. But even that wasn't enough to save Elemental
from catastrophe… two years later, that is. With everything updated the game will continue to crash, bog down to a crawl when the action gets going, and corrupt save information. Add in the fact that the AI is incredibly basic and frustrating, the UI is a mish-mash of random bits of information, and there is absolutely no guidance as to the myriad of different gameplay mechanics made Elemental
the last time I ever pre-ordered a PC game.
Enter Elemental: Fallen Enchantress
, Stardock’s apology for betraying their fans’ trust. This standalone expansion/remake will be free to anyone who purchased the original game in 2010 and available at a reduced price for those who bought it more recently. In addition, you will receive access to the beta to play immediately. Fallen Enchantress
promises to fix everything that was wrong with the original, ranging from bugs and AI to the interface and core gameplay components. But is Stardock actually fixing a potentially great game, or merely polishing a turd?