display | more...

Spellcross is a computer game developed in 1998 by Cauldron and published by Sales Curve Interactive. It is a strategy game that combines science fiction and fantasy.

The game is played on two levels, strategic and tactical one. Both are well designed. Interface is intuitive, with built in help and pop-up tips (not obvious in a DOS game). On strategic level you design your army from a selection of units, including infantry, armored vehicles and tanks. Also you conduct research to gain more units, upgrades and information about your enemy. All this is achieved using resources taken from conquered territories. These resources are limited both in quantity and speed in which they are gained. Every turn you can (but you don't have to, you might want to wait for your unit to return to full strength) attack a territory, and there are also some random and scripted counterattacks.

Tactical battle system is well made. While most missions are of the 'kill all enemies' variety, some are more complicated, sometimes with time limit. The map is three-dimensional, with height giving significant advantage. Every unit is described with a number of parameters, like action points, attack and defense. There is also experience giving various bonuses. Action points can be used to move and attack. Movement costs depends on terrain. Attack values are different for attack of 'soft' and 'hard' targets. Every unit has a number of soldiers/vehicles, which can get wounded/damaged or destroyed. Those not dead can be returned to combat in few battle turns. In general nothing very revolutional, but still well implemented and fun to play.

It might be of interest to someone that the best (non sci-fi)tank in the game is not M1A2 Abrams, but Leopard 2A5.

Unfortunately there is no multiplayer. The AI is not very good, and is based on prelocated units and numerical superiority (that is at least in part explained by the story). Even when it is attacking, it fails to coordinate its units. At least is seems that computer does not cheat, because as you shoot down its flying scouts, it does seem to lose knowledge about your movements, and moves to your last seen location. It can still provide some challenge thanks to mission construction.

The storyline of the game belongs to the good-old Earth is attacked and you must save the world theme. The interesting twist is that attackers are various fantasy dark races, like orcs, dark elves, evil magicians and many magical devices. Using magic they surprised all armed forces, and conquered the entire world with the exception of limited resistance pockets, and begun sacrificing population to their demonic gods. You are in command of one of such pockets, and you must regain control of the planet, research magic, find the source of invasion and eliminate it.

Unfortunately the battle system, while good by itself, has trouble with the story. All your units have unlimited ammo and fuel, voiding most of the advantages of hordes of orcs with axes. This is counterbalanced by their speed and numbers, but most units are quite similar to human ones, like golems=tanks etc.

In general, the game is a good one, with an original variation to story and well made battle system. It could, of course, be better, but what couldn't?