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This Week I Played: Warcraft II Tides of Darkness

Orcs are troublesome beings; they get in the linen cupboard and rough up the pillow cases something horrid. However, as Joseph Harper found, they’re also part of the enduring legacy of Warcraft.

It seemed necessary to play this old game, given the release of the year’s biggest and most critically acclaimed mega-film (Warcraft: The Beginning). “One of the most successful stinkers of all time” is a pretty apt description of the unwieldy and kind of incomprehensible movie. An award-winning film reviewer from Spinoff dot com accurately describes it as “a crap pile of rubbish [where] everyone was weeing and burping green for no reason [and] glenn close popped up for no reason [and] a man grew a moustache of nails.” The game on the other hand is still kind of fun.

Now twenty (!) years old, Warcraft II plays like a game half it’s age. It’s the perfect combination of nerdy war games and nerdy fantasy shit. My girlfriend and I played through the better part of the single player Orc campaign (because orcs are cool).

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I only ever played Warcraft III when these games actually came out, so it was a fun for me to see these jolly wee critters moving about and building pig-farms in a primitive form. I didn’t think it was as fun as Age of Empires, but it was still quite fun. It definitely felt kind of clunky at points, but the entry barriers were pretty low. The trajectories toward resource gathering and civilisation development were easy to follow and relatively satisfying.

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Anyone who has ever played a real-time strategy game will feel comfortable partaking in this throwback Thursday of a game. You’ve got your trees to chop. You’ve got your oil to dig. You’ve got your melee and ranged units. You’ve got all manor of building-types made out of tusks and some kind of canvas. It has all your bases covered, but Warcraft II also has lots of excellent features. Airships are especially sweet to me. It is very nice to be able to cruise the map in a goblin zeppelin or as a little dragon. I also love the little trolls because of their hair and skirts.

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My co-player rightly pointed out that Orcs moved slowly, which they definitely did. Also that they were difficult to keep together, which is also true. It’s hard to mount some sick siege legion when you can only control ~9 little critters at a time. She was also extremely impressed with the orc work ethic. “Very efficient wood choppers and very well behaved apart from when on expeditions.” She was basically disgusted by how weak and shitty the humans were – a sentiment I’m sure we’ve all felt at one time or another. She also noted that there are no women and assumed that is why “you have to grow an orc in the community centre”.

I probably won’t play this game ever again, but not because the experience of playing it was unpleasant. Rather, because I don’t want to.


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