Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf

The official Battle Realms expansion pack, Winter of the Wolf, is a bit on the skimpy side, weighing in at 11 brief missions, eight additional expansion units, and four new Zen Masters. Set seven years prior to the events in Battle Realms, Winter of the Wolf casts you as Grayback of the Wolf Clan, a burly rebel with a hankering to free his people from bondage and maybe kick a little tail along the way.

12The first few missions are disappointing, forcing you down linear paths and relying on too much scripting to advance the story. Combat occurs frequently in these early levels, but requires only minor interaction on your part, which is nearly as much fun as watching rats stumble through a maze. Once you see the light of day around the fourth mission, however, the game gets down to business with the same high-quality, open-ended “design a unit†gameplay that graced its forebear.

Probably the most innovative feature in this series is the ability to mix-and-match units by sending them to different training facilities. A single peasant could advance from weenie farmer to kung fu dragon-lord just by pinballing from dojo to dojo. That’s still the case here, but the new units are generally only slight permutations on the originals, and don’t distance themselves from the pack enough to warrant a wholehearted thumbs up.

The original Battle Realms was by no means a bad game, but more of an average one. The same rings true with this expansion pack, which is both hard to dislike but also hard to have fun with. As a run-of-the-mill real-time romp, it does its job competently, however.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 600 MB HDD, Win98

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