Heroes of Annihilated Empires review

  • Excellent voice acting
  • Great cutscenes
  • Commanding hundreds of units
  • Dim AI
  • Waiting for health & mana to regenerate
  • Inability to zoom in with the camera

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.

With only three maps and an online matchmaking system that looks like a ghost town, there’s not much going on in the game’s multiplayer matches either. Still, despite its shortcomings, we’re hopeful that the series will redeem itself in its future titles by showing off the sci-fi/fantasy crossover goodies hinted at in HoAE. But with its clumsy combat, dim AI and generic plot, HoAE fails to add anything new to the already crowded fantasy based RTS genre.

More Info

Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: CDV
Developed by: GSC Game World
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

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