Pre-E3 06: Warhammer: Mark of Chaos impressions

There's a welcome trend in today's PC market to craft RTS games that discard much of the resource collecting that has traditionally bogged down the action - who wants to chop wood or mine gold when there's a war to be fought? Warhammer: Mark of Chaos continues this trend, enabling the player to spend most of his or her time doing what fantasy RTS gamers love most - pitting entire armies of knights, demons, giants and - in this case, at least - rat creatures against one another in mortal combat, the bloodier the better.

Aside from the graphics, which strike a captivating balance between realism and too-artistic-to-be-real-even-if-demonic-wolves-and-goblins-did-exist, the big thing that makes Mark of Chaos so interesting is its creative unit types. Granted, this is a fantasy setting, but each of the four main armies: the demonic Chaos, the more-or-less heroic Empire, the High Elves and the rodent-like Scathing, have a few units that you just can't wait to command. And that's not even counting the "Dogs of War", mercenary units like orcs, goblins, vampires, skeletons and even giants, whose services can be purchased by players with the cash to spare.

Another big deal is the fact that your commander units, the big, high end guys like the winged, armored Demon Prince of Khorne or the Orc warboss, can actually duel one another on the battlefield. Once a duel is triggered, no other units on either side can interfere or interrupt, and a commander's individual skills, talents like "Claw", "Decapitate" and "Confuse", come into play. By the way, we do not recommend dueling against a Demon Prince of Khorne. That may not sound wise now, but you'll see for yourself what good advice this is when Warhammer: Mark of Chaos girds itself for battle late this year.

May 9, 2006