Available On: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Reviewed On: PlayStation 3
It’s been a little over 30 years since the original release of Atari’s Warlords; a simple title that tactically combined the runaway successes of Pong and Breakout into one powerful dynamic. In 2012, these same mechanics more or less maintain their original appeal, with perhaps only a little rust.
Players occupy a corner of the battlefield, filling the role of a Warlord, controlling nothing except their castle’s shields. In the three other corners stand equally impenetrable fortresses. Possessing no offensive capabilities of their own, the Warlords await a dragon.
Players sit tense at the controls, awaiting the first volley. In flies the dragon, unleashing five, fierce and fiery projectiles into the fray. They bounce about the terrain, breaking away at poorly guarded walls. Players must manoeuvre their shields in order to deflect the rampant projectiles into their foes. By pressing a button, they can not only deflect the fireballs but catch and supercharge them. In this way, they both protect their assets and earn points.
It’s simple, but we love simple. Particularly on mobile devices. The game has a very “on the go” feel to it and doesn’t have much to hold your attention for an extended period of time, considering the ample amount of other distractions available for console gamers; especially at this time of year.
Fortunately, some measures are taken to spice up the original formula. In addition to the classic mode, an upgraded mode allows you to control a small task force of minions, deemed Snoots, that can be deployed to retrieve power-ups, wear away the opposition, or repair your defences. The Snoots control nicely considering the chaotic environment they serve party to. The ability to attack or repair are assigned to the D-Pad and the player can directly control the Snoots with the right analog stick. The latter is the only way in which you can recover the power-ups littering the arena; power-ups such as invincibility, damage all shields, and slow shield movement.
Finally, the developers have added a Black Knight character to the fray. He serves as a common enemy to all players and intermittently dishes out onslaughts or terror and frustration to their fortresses.
Graphically, the game is a resounding “okay.” Leaps and bounds above the original, obviously, but this downloadable title won’t be amazing anyone with its dull palette and uninspired “characters.” That being said, this is a remake of a very old game that features a top-down perspective. To expect any more than we get would almost be unfair.
The remake does sport an online matchmaking mode for the very likely scenario that you can’t get 3 or more friends over for some local, retro gameplay. Unfortunately, the period of time where players will be able to find matches may be relegated to a relatively small time frame surrounding launch; a common affliction for downloadable titles on consoles.
VERDICT: By all means, Warlords is a fun experience and very worth a few moments of your time. Still, I can’t help feeling that I would’ve had a much more favourable opinion of this game had it been released to a different market; a more casual, diversified, viral, mobile market, for example.