SpellForce 2

Would seeing the Empire Strikes Back without seeing the first Star Wars have been as dramatic and satisfying? Cracking into a big story right in the middle is challenging, but sometimes it's worth it. Enter SpellForce 2, a genre-blending role-playing game that plays like a real-time strategy title. We didn't see the original, but heard it was huge in Europe (really).

SpellForce 2 looks like a complex and satisfying RPG with tons of fiddly-bits that would satiate even the most precise character-crafting players. Fortunately, the tutorial is superb, and the controls are extremely simple; we were able to do most everything with ease just using the mouse while playing through the preview. This freed us up to take advantage of the smart keyboard shortcuts the makers built in. For example, just hit theTAB key to highlight the biggest threat when you are caught in the thick of a crowded fight. Brilliant!

SpellForce 2 has all the elements of a great role-playing game: thousands of items, hundreds of skills and a truly epic adventure. Speaking of epic, you'll have access to 50+ hours of solo swashbuckling, and an additional 30 hours with three friends playing the co-op campaign.

The story is told through your Avatar, who you'll level up and choose skills for at critical junctures (the RPG part), and will lead units from their faction into battle against your enemies via an RTS style interface. Besides your Avatar and their helper units, they will be accompanied by up to four additional power-units called Heroes. You'll outfit your Heroes with skills and items just like your Avatar.