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Warhammer: Battle for Atluma
Score: 73%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: JV Games
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Ad Hoc)
Genre: Card Games

Graphics & Sound:
For me, getting into a CCG isnít a hard thing. Hand me a deck, a rulebook and someone to play and Iím game. This is especially true for video game translations of CCGs, not only because I donít have to go into debt building a great deck, but it means Iíll always have someone to play with. Warhammer: Battle for Atluma brings the Warhammer-based card game, War Cry, to the PSP. While it contains everything needed for a good card game, the elements arenít enough to equal one.

Battle for Atluma looks better than most video game CCGs. Rather than just scan in a bunch of cards and place them on a colored background, Battle of Atluma injects a little life by making the backgrounds look interesting. The really cool thing is that it manages to do this without becoming distracting. I also liked the way the cards were presented on the field, which reminded me of the way card games are played in the Yu-Gi-Oh TV series (minus the cool cards transforming into monsters part).

Music is mostly atmospheric and kind of forgettable in the long run. Most of the time, I found myself tuning it out since I was concentrating on making my next move.

Warhammer: Battle for Atluma is a translation of the CCG with a few added elements, the most notable being a story-based campaign mode that has the forces of good battling evil over control of a powerful artifact. The story, however, isnít all that important to gameplay since it is really just a vehicle to move you between card games.

Like most card games, Battle for Atluma is broken up into three phases. The first phase is called the Muster phase. Here you use your gold supply to deploy cards and position them on the play field. Troop cards come in a variety of types, namely infantry, calvary and ranged fighters. Each can be placed on the front lines or left in reserve. After deploying troops, you can equip them with magical weapons and other stat-enhancing items.

Once your troops are deployed and ready, you move on to the battle phase. Here you draw cards from another hand that can add additional bonuses to your army or cause bad things to happen to your opponentís army. Once all actions have been played and resolved, you then roll the dice to see who wins.

The system isnít overly complicated once you get the basics down, but it isnít all that interesting either. Maybe it is just personal taste, but War Cry never really got my interest or attention Ė and youíre looking at someone who was with Magic: The Gathering from the start and played every CCG from Rage to the original Star Wars CCG. Beyond simple combos and decisions, there really isnít much to the gameís strategy. The cards are bland and there doesnít seem to be that much of a difference between factions other than names. Even balance between cards in each faction feels really off.

On the plus side, the gameís rules are easy to understand and shouldnít take long for anyone to learn. If you are familiar with how the CCG concept works, the learning curve will be even easier, but if you arenít, it shouldnít take too long to figure out what to do. Still, a better tutorial would have been nice since the included tutorial videos actually made the game seem more complicated than it really is.

Easy or not, Warhammer: Battle for Atluma comes down to deck construction. You begin with a decent deck, but until you start earning gold to buy boosters, you probably wonít go far. The A.I. is no pushover and puts up a pretty good battle.

Game Mechanics:
Iíve played a lot of CCG-turned-video games and if anything, Battle for Atluma does one of the better jobs at making it easy to follow whatís going on during a game. All of the cardís stats are distilled onto a series of small icons and numbers displayed at the top of the screen. The layout isnít instantly useable, but once you learn what everything means, it is very helpful.

The layout is also clean and makes use of the PSPís widescreen display. Nearly everything youíll need during a turn is available at a glance. Reminder text at the bottom of each screen lets you know what to do as well as what buttons to press. It doesnít sound like much, but having the button functions labeled helps and is one less thing to worry about.

As far as CCGs go, Warhammer: Battle for Atluma isnít the best. As easy as the game is to learn, the simple rules work against it. There arenít many advanced strategies at play; as a result, games drag and probably wonít hold your interest for long unless you are already a War Cry fan.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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