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Wrath Unleashed
Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: The Collective
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:
Wrath Unleashed is a fairly innovative game that has a lot of promise by combining the Turn-Based Strategy and Fighting genres, but with a less than intuitive control scheme (when in combat) and a tougher-than-hell AI, it loses something in the implementation.

Wrath uses two basic styles of graphics. The first is the god's-eye view of the game board, which features a hex-based grid with different textures to represent different types of land. This view also displays the various monsters and characters but in a low-poly and low-detail fashion that might leave something to be desired. But these less than grand models become larger-than-life and high-detailed creatures when you enter a combat situation.

The arenas are large, open areas that give you plenty of area to maneuver your twisted creatures around to attack. The battle areas make up for any reservations you might have had about the graphics portion of Wrath Unleashed.

The sound effects are fair, and the music found throughout the game is great for pumping you up and getting you into the battles. I found that I could really focus on the game when the music was pumped up and it really helped to get me in the right frame of mind.

The story of Wrath Unleashed is the standard balance of power between good and evil, order and chaos. The playing field consists of pieces of land that float in the ether across the four realms (water, fire, earth and wind). When you take over one of the demigods you have at your disposal, various creatures and spells are used to gain control of power centers.

On each of these maps, there are hexes of different types. Each type has an effect on the creatures when they enter into battle (i.e. a fire based creature will do well on a lava based tile). These differences can turn the tide in an arena battle and should definitely be considered when planning out your path to victory.

Wrath offers several different modes of play that help you find the game you want. The main gameplay option is the War Games mode. This is where you will take on the role of one of the gods. You will command your army to either take out the other demigod or to reclaim enough land to win the day. There are three different modes in War Games: Battle, Campaign and Army Builder.

Battle Mode is a one game match where you and an opponent (AI or human) go head-to-head on a field of your choosing. Campaign Mode has you completing four missions for each realm in order to control the world. As you progress through the campaign of your chosen demigod, the missions get tougher and tougher.

Army Builder is perfect for those tweakers out there. You can choose the size of your army, as well as the realm that your army is aligned towards. At times I found myself enjoying the ability to create an army and test it out on the field more fun than going through the Campaign mode.

Wrath's Versus Mode is a good option for those people who prefer the arena battles more than the strategy game. You choose your order, then choose the creature you wish to do battle with, it's that simple. If this is more your style, then you might want to check out the Team Fighter Mode. This mode lets you compile a list of creatures and both players hack away at each other until someone is out of monsters (Pokemon Stadium style).

There is also a tutorial mode that will take you through the basic gameplay and teach you the different types of creatures and what their pros and cons are. It will take you through a campaign where you will encounter several arena battles and where you will take a few citadels. But don't let the ease of this training option fool you; Wrath is a lot tougher than the tutorial would lead you to believe.

Hard, that is a good word to summarize the difficulty in Wrath Unleashed. Mostly it is because of how hard it is to predict the AI's moves. I found myself constantly being over powered and out maneuvered by the opposing army. And, on top of that, my inability to get used to the combat control scheme left me losing ground on more than a few occasions.

Game Mechanics:
The control scheme of Wrath Unleashed can have its problems. Mostly I just couldn't get used to the layout in the fighting mode of the game. For some reason my fingers just weren't doing what I needed them to do. Usually in fighting games I start off button mashing, but I eventually get into the swing of things and do well. That wasn't the case here. It isn't that the button positioning didn't make sense; it just felt wrong while doing it.

Thankfully, that was really the only place I had problems with the control scheme in Wrath. The strategy side of the controls were easy to pick up and I never had any problems controlling my troops and positioning them for their attacks.

With its unique (if not rare) blend of strategy and fighting, Wrath Unleashed has a lot of potential, but truthfully, it is more enjoyable when you change it to just fighting or just strategy.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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