SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars
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The original box art for SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars
|Release date(s)||Shadow Wars
|Genre(s)||Real-time strategy, role-playing video game|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer, online (see below)|
SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars is a combination of Real-time strategy and role-playing video game created by German game developers Phenomic as a sequel to their 2003 release SpellForce: The Order of Dawn and its two expansions (SpellForce: The Breath of Winter and SpellForce: Shadow of the Phoenix).
SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars has been followed by the expansions SpellForce 2: Dragon Storm and SpellForce 2: Faith in Destiny. A third and final expansion titled SpellForce 2: Demons of the Past was announced by Nordic Games GmbH in June 2013. 
The SpellForce series has been one of the few attempts to fuse role-playing game (RPG) and real-time strategy (RTS) elements. Other games that have attempted to integrate the two genres include Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
The RPG aspects of SpellForce 2 parallel games such as Diablo, Diablo II, and Sacred for character development and skill trees, equipment customization, and top-down isometric viewing. However, the capacity to control multiple heroes often makes the game play similar to that found in the Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights video games.
The RTS aspects of SpellForce 2 mirrors the Warcraft fantasy RTS games. This includes the ability to control several separate factions such as "the Realm" (humans, elves, and dwarves), "the Pact" (dark elves, gargoyles, and shadows) and "the Clans" (orcs, trolls, and barbarians). Each faction has its own individual troop and building types.
SpellForce 2 has several gaming modes including: campaign mode (expositional), skirmish mode (almost purely RTS), and free play (similar to campaign mode but without an overarching plot). It can also be played co-operatively or competitively in multiplayer mode.
Users can only save their progress whilst in the campaign mode of the game.
The tactics for SpellForce are common to those used to successfully complete other RPG and RTS games. RPG character development requires a player to obtain experience as well as high-quality armor and weapons. In campaign play, these rewards are maximized by completing "optional" side-quests.
RTS sections usually involve building a camp, most often defended by RPG characters in its infancy. Then it typically involves marshalling the maximum number of troops to a point of conflict. While army composition does matter, unit micromanagement does not appear to be a major factor in RTS success.
The player can control up to six characters including an avatar and will also have the opportunity to be accompanied by one or more NPCs. The main character, or avatar, can get to level 30, while other party members can only get to level 24.
The main character (avatar) controlled by the player is a Shaikan, a character who has the blood of the dragon Ur. This dragon blood allows resurrection of the avatar and his or her followers, as well as the ability to summon followers instantly to the avatar's side.
As the avatar returns to the Shaikan fortress, small groups of dark elves have already started attacking. In a desperate attempt to save those caught off guard, the Shaikan enlists the help of the humans at a nearby outpost. After buying his or her people a chance to retreat, the Shaikan's patron Ur sends the avatar off to warn and unite the forces of light (humans, dwarves, and elves) to battle with the help of a dark elf heroine, Nightsong.
The avatar travels to Norimar, which is led by Baron Ordbragndt, to convince him to help the Shaikan. The Baron does not feel threatened but decides to help when news arrives that the dark elves are attacking. The avatar presses through the advancing elves and sounds the Horn of Norimar, a device fashioned by the dwarves which causes the pass to collapse and blocks the dark elf advance. The avatar returns to the Baron, then leaves for Sevenkeeps, sealing the vault of the undead and passing through Rushwater Downs to deliver supplies and to free them from a siege by the forces of the Clans. However, upon arriving at Sevenkeeps, King Ulf arrogantly states that the dark elves are not a threat and gives the avatar the Westguard, a neglected piece of land that no one has found useful. The avatar and Nightsong are angry that Falmar backs up the king by deciding that since King Ulf won't help them they will acquire the help of the dwarves of Underhall and the elves of Dun Mora. However, to get to Underhall, they need the ambassador's permission. The avatar acquires a special potion which revives the dwarven ambassador after he collapses from drinking, grief-stricken when he cannot return home. The avatar also gains Jared, who catches the plague but is revived by the avatar's blood and pledges to fight for him. The avatar then helps the dwarves of Underhall reclaim their mines from an evil sorcerer and a frost witch, thus gaining the alliance of the dwarves. The avatar's party then heads to Dun Mora, the home of the elves. where they meet up with their sister Shae, an elemental mage. The party gains an audience with the queen, who informs them that the elves are under the spell of several ghosts and that every night they are assailed by demons. The avatar agrees to help the elves and they destroy the demon army and their gateways to Barga Gor. Securing the alliance of the elves, the avatar then heads for the Clans Fortress of the Needle, where they defeat a massive army of orcs, trolls and barbarians. They then make their way to the besieged Shaikan fortress. With the aid of the Realms, they defeat the army of the Pact but they are too late as a massive demon had devoured most of the Shaikan and the fortress is in ruins. The Realms refuse to lend aid in the avatar's quest for revenge and so the avatar turns to the Clans for help, thus beginning the second act of the story.
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While the game originally featured a central online matchmaking service, this service shut down in 2009. Originally, the developers announced that a new contract for resuming matchmaking would take effect around July 2009. However, as of February 2010, the online matchmaking is still unavailable. Multiplayer is still possible via LAN or by using a service such as Hamachi.
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Many of the criticisms of the original SpellForce (e.g. poor integration of RPG and RTS aspects, a confusing interface, and an overly cumbersome RTS system) were improved upon in the sequel. While many reviewers indicate that SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars is one of the best hybrid games to date, most acknowledge that it presents little innovation for either of its RPG or RTS genres.
- Official SpellForce webite
- Auran SpellForce 2 website
- SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars at MobyGames
- SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars (Collector's Edition) at MobyGames