Warlords is a modern remake of the 1980’s ATARI classic of the same name. Most HD rebirths simply recreate a classic’s visuals, tighten controls, and generally spray a thick layer of polish over everything, while retaining the classic formula. Warlords (PSN) goes beyond this trend, by incorporating several new mechanics that complicate, yet enhance the classic gameplay.
The original Warlords plays like a 4 player, competitive version of Breakout, where you’re trying to destroy your opponent’s castles, while protecting your own pixelated kingdom from up to 5
balls dragon discharged, fireballs ricocheting around the battlefield at a given time. You can hold onto and charge up a fireball, to unleash additional damage toward your (preoccupied if you’re smart) opponents. Your castle’s constructional integrity slowly erodes away for the duration of charge time.
So what does the PlayStation Network’s recreation add to this already unique take on brick breaking? A simplistic real time strategy game, right in the heart of the battlefield. I’ll abstain from going too far into depth here (for my own sanity), but essentially, through the manipulation of your henchman (called Snoots), you’re able to fight for different power ups, heal your fortress, or attack your opponents – all while deflecting up to 5 fireballs mind you. Oh, did I mention, there’s a giant black knight that will spawn every once in a while, and start wailing on your walls? Ya, keep an eye out for him.
Do all of these additions actually help the game? Originally, I might of argued against them; when I was first thrown into Warlords‘ color-coded chaos, it was quite off-putting. But after a few rounds, I started to realize that this RTS addition is an innovative, original way to obtain power-ups. I quickly started to appreciate Warlords for granting me control, and indirect influence over what’s happening, while simultaneously directly fending for myself via the core paddle gameplay.
Visually, Warlords is popping with charm. The Snoots are uniquely awkward, and humorously prone to sudden explosive deaths, and the actual Warlords that you’re implied to be filling the role of, are all themed around a specific color and element, everything under their control (Snoots, charged fireballs, etc) are visually coded based on this theme or element. This character-color association makes gameplay a little easier to keep track of. I did, however, notice a few instances where I briefly lost track of my lead Snoot, because the black knight had sword swiped him away from where I had last placed him. The game isn’t particularly cinematic, or story centered; but there’s some nice albeit low budget cutscenes in the form of victory animations, and Warlords’ tutorial mode that bring a surprising amount of character to Warlords, even if some of the up close animation is noticeably low textured.
Warlords plays host to a bevy of features, and modes, including: campaign, classic, 1 on 1, 2 on 2, and FFA. All of these modes (bar campaign) can be played locally, or online with up to 4 players. The campaign mode is really just a collection of 9 games of varying mode, and increasing difficulty. There’s a text story that scrolls as you’re selecting a level, but most players will probably forgo reading this, and just play the stage at hand instead. Campaign will take you anywhere from 1-2 hours to complete, depending on your skill level. Online, and local multiplayer is a lot of fun, though I never did see a single person playing online whenever I checked. So you’ll need to make sure you have friends around, or online if you’re hoping to play Warlords, with anyone other than yourself.
Warlords is a surprisingly fresh take on the brick breaking genre, with a pleasantly charming visual style, and a lot of personality. It definitely has it’s issues, but they almost never hinder the core gameplay experience.