We were excited by Heroes of Annihilated Empires’ E3 trailer - which teased us with a brief shot of screaming fighter jets after showing waves of elves and undead crashing against each other - suggesting a refreshing mix of science fiction and high fantasy where modern planes and rifle toting marines might do battle with dragons and elven archers.
Unfortunately, it looks like you’ll have to wait for the sequels to see these sorts of scenarios as HoAE (the first entry in developer, GSC Game World’s real-time strategy trilogy) contains none of the exciting sci-fi elements hinted at in the trailer.
Above: You’ll occasionally come across the wreckage of a conspicuous jet or tank in the fantasy based backgrounds
Instead, HoAE shoots itself in the foot by holding its most interesting card too close to its chest. Neither the characters nor plot mentions - or even acknowledges - the presence of the out-of-place jets or tanks you’ll occasionally see in the game’s background.
What you’re left with is a disappointingly generic and poorly executed fantasy based game that plays out like a Cliffs Notes version of Warcraft III with a touch of Lord of the Rings. Part dungeon crawler and part RTS, Heroes of Annihilated Empires doesn’t succeed in delivering a satisfying experience from either of the genres it tries to combine in this hybrid adventure.
The game’s hero combat system is just plain boring. You’ll control Elhant - an elven ranger - throughout the majority of the campaign mode as you try to find a way to prevent the undead from destroying your world. As you battle, you’ll level up and find items and equipment - eventually developing your character into a one man army. But the thrill of taking out legions of undead and demons with this Legolas-like bowman will quickly wear thin.
When you’re not waiting for your health and mana to slowly regenerate, you’ll find yourself exploiting your enemies’ dim AI by attacking them and running away. Once the enemy begins retreating you can continue to whittle down their health as they return to their original position.
Above: Without the ability to zoom in closer than this, it’s hard to fully appreciate the game’s large scale battles
The game’s RTS elements leave much to be desired as well. Expect the usual assortment of melee, ranged and siege units dressed up in good – but certainly not great – looking graphics. Combine that with units that often stand idle on the sidelines while the enemy is attacking your buildings right in front of them, and you’re left with an utterly average experience.