Of all SSI's releases in the "5-star" series built on the acclaimed engine of Panzer General, Fantasy General is my favorite and one of the most underrated. |
What makes Fantasy General one of the best fantasy wargames ever? For starters, each of the four heroes you can choose as your alter ego requires very different strategies to win, as well as following his or her own path to victory. For example, the Archmage Krell is a powerful magic user, and therefore will command an army mostly consisting of magical creatures. Krell can also cast a magic spell every turn on the battlefield, which helps even the odds for his relatively weak army. The units in the game are also more than just Panzer General units in fantasy disguise: some units have spellcasting abilities, and some are unique heroes you can meet and recruit. All units improve their abilities with experience, and can be upgraded to better units when the research is done.
While multiplayer options abound, they pale beside the excellent plot-based single-player campaign which spans 5 continents, each of which presents new terrain and units. Fantasy General also boasts several improvements over Panzer General and Allied General, the best of which is customizable research areas. As in previous 5-star games, you earn "prestige points" from winning each scenario to spend on new units. Here, you can also spend points on researching various unit types and setting priorities to suit your style, e.g. spend more points on air unit research to invent new units faster if you rely on air superiority. The game is also highly replayable, thanks to alternate routes you can take for most continents, as well as very different units each hero commands.
The only bad thing I can think of about this game is the fact that the last few battles are nearly impossible to win on the most difficult level. Other than that, the excellent gameplay, varied missions and units, great replayability, and one of the best soundtracks ever made for a computer game combine to make an unforgettable playing experience. A must-have for all fans of fantasy wargames, and truly a watershed in the entire series. Two thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs