Posted on October 15, 2012 AT 04:29pm
Over thirty years ago the Atari 2600 released a game that was one of the first four-player co-op titles to be put out for a home console: Warlords. In it you and your friends had to protect your forts from one another via a movable shield while a Pong-like ball flew towards your area. Now in 2012 Atari has remade the game for the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade, having it take place in medieval times and adding a few extras to the gameplay.
The main name of the game remains the same: protect your fort from barreling objects, while at the same time eliminate your opponent’s domain. Instead of regular balls we find the main hazard being one made of fire and shot out from the throat of a dragon. As the game goes on you can earn special power-ups (such as slowing or reversing shields and making your fort invincible for a short period of time) that can make things more difficult for the other players. In order to collect said power-ups you will need to use your special minions to stand on the power-up circle long enough to grab them, although the other players can make things more difficult by having your minions attack yours at the same time.
Your minions can also do other tasks during gameplay. If you bring them to your wall they can help rebuild whatever damage the fireballs have made, which will help you stay in the game. However if you bring them to an enemy wall, they’ll start tearing it down and help you pave the way to earning a victory. As the level progresses more fireballs may be thrown at you (sometimes up to five), which will keep players on their toes as they hurdle towards your fort. There’s also the occasional emergence of the White Knight, whose sole purpose is to smash anyone’s wall and cause some unwanted havoc amongst the playing field.
As you can see there is a lot that can go on during a level in Warlords, which leads me into the game’s main problem: it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that’s happening. With all the fireballs being thrown around while you protect your shield, you can easily forget about your little minions, thereby losing out on some of the really cool power-ups that are given out. Then there is the issue of the White Knight, who pops in and out of the level randomly and makes things worse for everyone. If you wind up accidentally hitting him (and you will), he will automatically retaliate and start smashing your fort walls until someone else makes the same mistake. Believe me when I say that I lost many a battle because I angered the nowhere-near noble warrior.
Playing Warlords has some weird quirks in its control scheme, too. You use the left stick to move your shield and your right stick to place your minion at the spot you want him to be. The issue here is that many times the game expects you to do both at the same time, making it hard to get either function down properly. There is the cool maneuver where you can catch the fireball with one of the buttons and send it flying faster towards a different fort, but proper timing is required to get it down right; if you hold too long you can damage your own fort, too. There is a tutorial that shows you how to become an expert at the game, but I found myself more confused than educated as it reached its end.
This Warlords remake isn’t all that bad, though, as its saving grace comes in the form of its multiplayer. Here up to four friends or online players can battle it out with one another, with the option to customize the happenings within the level. You can choose how many fireballs can be thrown in the game, along with what style of game you’d like to play and where you’d like the battle to be held.
The other good thing about Warlords is its overall look. The medieval look of the title fits well with the style of gameplay. The minions are cute, the dragons and knights are menacing, and the kingdoms look the part. One other cool thing about the game is that you can switch the view between a third-person mode and the overhead classic angle. I highly recommend not switching between the two during gameplay, though, as it might cause some confusion for you and the other players.
The single-player campaign mode in Warlords may take you between four and five hours to beat, although this is the type of game that’s best played at a paced speed. Campaigning for too long may cause some eye strain, especially with all the multitasking that you’ll have to do in each level.
- Great online multiplayer mode
- Nice medieval setting
- Power-ups add a good challenge to the level
- Controls can leave you cross-eyed
- Too much happening on the screen at once
- That damn White Knight!
It’s cool to see Atari reaching back to its golden age and revamping one of its best titles. Unfortunately what it has added onto the Warlords motif hurts its main gameplay elements rather than helps. Still with a few friends by your side you can expect some good multiplayer fun that many will enjoy.
FINAL GRADE: 6.4 (out of ten)
PSN review copy provided by TriplePoint PR
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