During last month's Game Developer's Conference, publisher Aspyr Media showed off a number of their upcoming games to select members of the press, including those it is co-publishing with European based publisher JoWood. One of those games, Spellforce 2 is actually due out later this month while the other, Gothic 3, is due out later this fall. FiringSquad got some demo time with both titles during GDC.
Spellforce 2-Shadow Wars is a sequel to the original title developed by Phenomic Interactive that had a somewhat unique blend of role playing and real time strategy. The sequel continues the original's hybrid style of gameplay and sometimes you will have to switch between those two different gameplay styles in a single mission. The storyline is fairly typical for a fantasy game; the Dark Elves have teamed up with a mysterious group known only as the shadows to take over Spellforce's fantasy land and of course its up to you to stop them. While the game's plot is pretty average stuff, Spellforce's 2 gameplay is anything but average.
For one thing, the sequel allows you to create your own hero with tons of different options to choose from just like an RPG title. Choosing from one of several races you can customize the look and skills of your hero (or heroine) from different weapons and amour choices to choose from. Another RPG aspect is controlling up to five different characters in your party, each with their own abilities.
However, as we mentioned earlier RTS elements are also a part of Spellforce 2 as you get to lead one of three different factions (The Realm, The Clan and The Pact) to build armies and collect resources. The RTS aspect has been thankfully streamlined in comparison to the original. Spellforce 1 had a whopping seven resources to collect and manage but the sequel only has three. The menu system has also been improved and streamlined to allow for better access to your units and their abilities.
We were particular impressed to hear that in addition to the main 30 mission single-player campaign there will also be a separate co-op campaign as well, along with over 30 multiplayer maps that will also include single player skirmish modes. Spellforce's original graphics were quite good looking in 2004 when it was first released but Spellforce 2's graphical looks have gotten an upgrade with excellent visual effects and impressive character animations and models.
Based on our GDC demo time Spellforce 2 is almost certainly going to be an improvement on the original with more streamlined gameplay and impressive graphics. A demo is already out for people to try out the game and the final product is due to be shipped to stores later this month.