Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Reverie World Studios
System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista, 2.4 GHz Pentium IV or AMD CPU, 1 GB RAM (2 GB Vista), 1 GB hard-drive space, 256 MB GeForce 7600 graphics card or equivalent, DirectX 9.0-compatible sound card, Internet connection
ESRB rating: Teen
Release date: Available now
Review by Mindy Hartman
Those darn elves, orcs and humans are at it again: building cities, competing for resources and just plain refusing to get along. Dawn of Fantasy was released a little more than three months ago by developer Reverie World Studios as their first released game. Publisher 505 Games looks like they’re trying to branch out with this publication too, as their bread and butter seems to be cutesy animal games for the DS.
Dawn of Fantasy is a standard real-time strategy game that allows players to select their race (human, orc or elf), build up their nation in the realm of Mythador and try to conquer everything surrounding them. Once you select a race, you must choose two starting attributes from a fairly staggering list; your choices determine your starting bonuses and penalties on everything from camp setup price reduction to increased gathering or production abilities. Upon entering your world, a booming voice introduces you to the scenery and your primary task giver. At this point, the world is yours, and building and questing are up to you.
Gameplay is solo; you accept quests, gather resources (food, wood, gold and stone), and conquer nearby baddies such as trolls and goblins. Construction and gathering is done in real time. For example, building a barn really takes half an hour; an archery range takes two and a half hours. While the game has an MMO tag, the MMO aspects of conquering other players’ cities isn’t any different than conquering an AI city in solo play. There’s no aligning with other cities to meet bigger objectives, and conquering another player’s city doesn’t grant you access to the other city or wipe them off the map.
According to Reverie, Dawn of Fantasy has been in the works for 10 years. The game looks and sounds like it was programmed 10 years ago and then sat on a shelf until its recent release. The feel of the game is ancient, too. There appears to be some detail in the graphics, but you can’t zoom in or out enough to take in the big picture (up close or on a grand scale). Dawn suffers in looks, sound and general feel, and it’s been patched 30 times in the last three months. That’s a patch every three days!
As far as actual gameplay goes, there’s not much to rave about here either. There’s no tutorial or easy-to-access game manual to give you hints about what to do. If this is your first RTS, you’re going to be severely turned off from the genre because this game isn’t intuitive enough to get away with skipping a tutorial mode. And real-time building and gathering is a serious problem. Who wants to spend hours waiting for construction of new buildings or weapons? I know I don’t.
I tend to be a pretty positive person. I look for the silver lining in just about every situation. However, I just can’t seem to find anything shiny about Dawn of Fantasy. Nothing is ever going to make me want to wait through its patch and load times again.