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  • Warhammer: Dark Omen Review
    Tempo: Jan. 22, 2020



    Dark Omen is a tactical real-time wargame set in Games Workshop's popular Warhammer

    fantasy world. You assume command of Bernhardt's Grudgebringers, a powerful and prestigious

    mercenary army forced to defend itself against armies of the vengeful Undead. 





    All the while, the Greenskins - orcs, goblins, and worse - will be a thorn in your side. Dark

    Omen is exciting, visually superb, and features an elegant interface. The end result is a game

    that will more than satisfy virtually any real-time strategy fan - even as it alienates those turn-based

    strategy gamers who made Warhammer what it is today.





    The 3D landscapes in Dark Omen look gorgeous (it's almost a shame to litter them with the

    corpses of your enemies). Lush rolling hills, sheer cliffs and castle parapets, trees, waterfalls

    everything looks colorful and beautiful, and even more so if you have a good 3D accelerator

    at your disposal.


    And just as the scenery appears real, so does it have realistic properties. Your infantry will have

    a difficult time scaling steep slopes while your archers will fare better on high ground since they'll

    have a better view of the situation. Rough terrain will slow your forces down, and obstacles like trees

    and boulders make for life-saving cover from ranged attacks. The 2D soldiers are well animated and

    easily distinguishable from one another. Better still, their corpses remain on the battlefield indefinitely,

    and things will look pretty grizzly toward the end of any particular fight.





    Among the great aesthetic touches in Dark Omen are the 3D animated facial portraits representing

    the different regiments. It's more than a little unsettling when a skeletal wight commander shrieks

    "Charge!" as his undead forces rush forth to strike. Wounded regiments' commanders will appear

    bloodied and scarred, and when a regiment is completely destroyed you'll see a close-up of the

    commander as he screams and dies. 


    All the portraits are unique, realistic, and expressive and add a great deal of character and personality

    to Dark Omen. Unfortunately, though its graphics are so distinctive, Dark Omen's sound is less than

    fantastic. All your different characters speak in exactly the same dull voice during combat, which

    goes a long way to stifle the various characters' personalities. And while the music in the game is

    appropriately grave and dramatic, it grows rather repetitive.





    Commanding your forces in battle is an intuitive and efficient affair, made all the simpler through

    a helpful speech-driven tutorial. Deploying your troops to the field is a painless procedure, and you

    can issue initial movement or firing orders to your various regiments before the battle begins. Each

    regiment, belonging to both friend and foe, is represented by a color-coded battle standard. Even if

    a regiment is offscreen, its standard will still appear on the border of your display representing its

    location relative to yours. This effectively allows you to control all your forces from any point on

    the battlefield, such that you can easily redirect your artillery and ranged units to fire upon enemy

    reinforcements. Magic spells and special abilities are easily accessible, and issuing move and attack

    orders is as simple as clicking on the destination.





    Your regiments are efficient about moving from place to place, though they have a tendency to get a

    little confused about where to go when in very close proximity to one another. True line of sight means

    you'll have to keep a sharp eye out to make sure your foes aren't sneaking up on you, as unless the

    enemy is in direct view of one of your regiments, you won't see it either. Of course, you can often use

    this same feature to your advantage and hide your own regiments behind cover then charge the enemies'

    flanks when they draw close, often causing your foes to panic and rout. Morale plays an important role

    in Dark Omen, especially when your troops are pitted against the fear-inspiring Undead.




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