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Wrath Unleashed
game: Wrath Unleashed
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Apr 21st, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Apr 21st, 2004

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By Eric Qualls

Hybrid games that combine two or more genres are always interesting because you never really know what you are going to get. Sadly, more often than not hybrid games are complete crap where none of their separate parts are anywhere near as good as they would have been had the developer picked a single genre and stuck with it. Wrath Unleashed is just one of those sort of games. It combines turn-based strategy with 3-D fighting, but it doesn't do either of them very well.

The story in Wrath Unleashed revolves around four Overlords that fight each other to try and become Gods and to try and maintain dominance in the world. Each of them is controlled by the forces of Light and Dark, Chaos and Order, and also the four elements of fire, water, earth, and wind. Aenna follows the Light Order and is governed by the element of water, for example. The story isn't really all that important in Wrath Unleashed and does its job of giving you a reason to fight and little more. There are two parts to the gameplay in Wrath Unleashed. The first part plays out on a hexagonal grid where you take turns moving units around the map. Certain characters can move further than others or can move in different ways, pretty much standard turn-based strategy stuff. You also build up magic points that you can spend on spells, teleportation, and other defensive and offensive tactics. The victory requirements for each mission are usually simple things such as capturing temples or defeating all of the enemies on the map. To engage an enemy in battle, all you have to do is move to the same tile that an enemy is on.

That brings us to the second part of the gameplay. The game switches from a turn-based strategy game into a 3-D fighting game when you have to fight an enemy. Each character has several punches and kicks as well as special moves and magic attacks and these can be chained together into combos. Each arena also has a number of hazards that are either an advantage of disadvantage for the fighters depending on their elemental alignment. The fighting isn't as deep as a full-on fighting game would be, but it is actually pretty fun. Strategy in the game was supposed to come from many different places, but the very nature of the fighting aspect throws any sense of strategy out the window. Basically, if you are good at fighting games then there isn't really any strategy needed in Wrath Unleashed. The way the game was intended to work is that your movements on the hexagonal grid are supposed to be played out where you try and match up your strongest characters to the enemy's weakest and generally try to be smart about the battles you get into. Once you get into the actual fighting, however, size, strength, HP and elemental alignment don't really mean squat because a skilled player can take the weakest character on their team and beat pretty much anything their opponent has to offer. So, rather than carefully planning how you advance through each map it is simpler to just plow through your enemies because you know you can win no matter what. This is fun in a way, but it is clearly not what the developer intended.

Another reason why there isn't really any strategy needed in the game is because none of the Overlords really have an advantage. Despite all of the alignments and elemental crap you have to consider in this game, each of the four armies in the game are all pretty much the same. The special attacks are different depending on what element a creature is, but the main differences between the armies are a different color of skin or a different name for the same creature. Once you get into the fighting mode none of this really matters anyway, but it would have made the game much more interesting had all of the teams not been so evenly matched right from the start. Wrath Unleashed offers several modes in which to do battle. The Campaign is the main mode and features missions that follow the main storyline in the game. You have to play through as each of the four Overlords in order to get the whole story, but each Overlord only has four missions, so this mode isn't really going to take very long to beat. More interesting is the quick battle mode that lets you build a custom army and duke it out with up to three other factions on a number of different maps. If you want to skip the turn-based strategy stuff and dive right into fighting, there are also a couple of straight up fighting modes you can play through.

Graphically, Wrath Unleashed is solid but not spectacular. The graphics on the strategy side are functional, but really not all that impressive. Everything is clear and easy to see, but nothing really stands out. On the battle screens, the game looks a lot better. The environments look good, but the real stars are the detailed character designs. There are some really impressive looking creatures in Wrath Unleashed, including a few new versions of some of the most well known mythical creatures. The sound is only average. Sound effects include the same grunts and groans we have listened to for the last decade and the music consists of the same cheesy epic? tracks that every game uses. I played both the Xbox and PS2 versions of Wrath Unleashed, and they are exactly the same in terms of features. The only differences are slightly better graphics and a better framerate on the Xbox version. The game has to load quite a bit and this is one area where the Xbox version is clearly superior. If you want Wrath Unleashed, the Xbox version is probably your best bet, but PS2 owners will be happy with their version as well.

Overall, Wrath Unleashed is like so many other hybrid games that start off with a lot of great sounding concepts but end up only being average. I am sure some people are going to like it more than I did, but the majority of people aren't going to enjoy Wrath Unleashed very much. Strategy game fans won't like it due to its lack of, well, strategy, and fighting game fans won't like it because of the crappy strategy game attached to it. I can't recommend it for a purchase, but if you have a weekend to spend with it Wrath Unleashed might make an interesting rental.