WarWind I & II
War Wind I
In 1996 SSI released a real-time strategy game in the style of Warcraft II and Command & Conquer. War Wind adopted the best elements of these, and adds some fascinating new features of its own. It's magic, it's mayhem, and it's murder.
Once you've chosen one of four alien races to play, you can choose between a campaign mode (seven missions) or an existing scenario (one of three different missions). A good read-through of the manual is important before jumping into the campaigns. Each race has different advantages and disadvantages that make your race selection somewhat difficult as well. The interface is mouse-driven, and many options for unit selection are like those in a previously mentioned game. Since combat occurs so rapidly, you should learn some of the Hot Keys in order to survive. Your job is to complete the mission goals - no matter what. In case you forget, the Options screen lets you review what you're supposed to be doing.
Your basic job is to mine resources (sound familiar?) while avoiding being overrun by your opponent. Several nice touches are the presence of neutral and hostile wildlife, the ability to train and upgrade your units, and the Fog of War that closes down on areas as you leave them. Your computer opponents will seem to have two modes: PATROL and KILL. If you succeed in a mission, you can select some of your people - er, creatures - and place them in the Hall of Heroes, which will allow you to carry them forward in future missions. If you get bored with your campaign, you can use the Scenario Editor to create your own missions.
War Wind II
SSI's War Wind II: The Human Onslaught is a fitting follow-on to War Wind, relating, in exquisite detail, the war-torn saga that has enveloped the distant planet of Yavaun. Silently residing at the edge of the universe, Yavaun, as you may or may not recall, has been beset by decades of civil unrest, immersed in a colossal war that threatens the very fabric of life on the aged planet. Four radically divergent factions - the Tha' Roon, the Obblinox, the Shama'Li, and the Eaggra - have been at odds for some time, enjoined in a genocidal war with but one obvious if reprehensible conclusion. Years have passed since their first world war, and, exhausted by the struggle, the four dissimilar races have temporarily set aside their differences to regroup and recover.
As we soon learn, members of the human race have unknowingly been dragged into the latest conflagration, teleported from their own Arctic hinterland, across the galaxy, and onto Yavaun's savage surface. It seems a scientific expedition, bolstered by a powerful US Marine detachment, was, at the time of its kidnapping, attempting to unearth an otherworldly stone firmly wedged in the polar ice. When the expedition finally freed the stone, a mystical spell, conjured up by powerful necromancers on Yavaun, succeeded in dematerializing then rematerializing the humans and their equipment to their all-new tropical environs.
Essentially, with the introduction of the humans, the plot on Yavaun has now thickened. As we discover, the Tha' Roon and the Obblinox have joined forces, as have the Shama'Li and the Eaggra. Meanwhile, the human faction has somehow managed to splinter into two sects: one tracing the struggle of the human scientists, the other following the exploits of the Marines. As you've no doubt already guessed, each group attempts to rise to power over the other three, employing its own innate characteristics and traits to best its opponents and set the record straight.
As was the case before, War Wind II infuses an intriguing RPG element into the somewhat staid real-time wargaming genre. Player characters are selected prior to mission start-up and must locate and acquire various objects scattered about the map, storing, using, or exchanging these items to suit the victory conditions or improve their overall status. And, while your forces must continually do battle with indigenous life forms and other hostile creatures haphazardly mingling amidst the tropical landscape, there are situations where your player characters must holster their weapons and interact with various non-player characters to gain invaluable information. To keep the game fresh and appealing, new units - such as the Overlord's two-headed giants - have been integrated into the original order of battle, which helps to flesh out the world of Yavaun apart from what we already know. Like any ambitious title, there are a few niggling problems that tend to complicate gameplay. For instance, the Marine units, clad in olive drab uniforms, are especially difficult to discern as they saunter about in the bright green foliage. Time and again, I lost track of these units when they intermingled with the lush green flora. And, although the interface is intuitive, War Wind II utilizes a fairly complex method of highlighting units. Instead of selecting and deselecting multiple units with a single mouse click, I was often forced to repeat certain commands because I had inadvertently clicked on more than one unit with the impromptu group command.
Four campaigns - comprising over 46 imaginative scenarios - help to tell the all-new saga engulfing the world of Yavaun. Together with a robust scenario editor War Wind II, in the final analysis was one of the most entertaining titles of 1997.