RPG Games
Rev. of the Anc.

Imagine Games Network
July 23, 1999

Orcs: Revenge of the Ancient
Vincent Lopez

Forget about what's going on after dark -- Berkeley Systems wants to bring you down into the dank depths of Middle-Earth. Sierra's new strategy/simulation may take place in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings universe, but it's about more than just taking the Orcs side of the story. Berkeley Systems, developer of You Don't Know Jack and the Dark series, has married the monster-raising phenomenon with RPGs to create a beautiful strategy baby.

You take the role of an Orc chieftain working under your lord and master Sauron, the dark power. Your job is to find and train four different Orcs in order to help you keep the peace between his factions, which have recently begun fighting. Sauron is gathering his forces to conquer the West, and the close quarters of all the different groups has made for some vicious infighting, not to mention that there are two other powers lurking in the shadows, ready to destroy your leader. Now that you've got your mission, it's time for you to create an elite team to solve some of these problems, and make your dark lord proud. Only in this game, you don't just find the Orcs, it's up to you to train them, and turn them into a super-team.

The designers wanted to create something with a similar experience to Pokemon (another monster raising title for the Game Boy, for you rock dwellers), but with much more sophisticated mechanics. You select your team of Orcs, and then hone their stats through training sessions and battles. The personalities of each character have a unique feel (a violent Orc may be hard to train, but a vicious competitor in battle), and change over time, and with proper instruction. As you raise the creatures' intelligence and stats, different attack combinations will be added to their skillset, which allows you to create a specialized warrior with specific skills. You'll be able to test out your Orcs' power on over 30 enemies in the game, in full 3D. But that's just the start -- when you're ready for the big time, head online.

The real focus of the game is the multiplayer combat, which will allow you to test out your Orcs against players from around the world. You may think you're the best, but wait until that twelve year old girl from Ohio wallops you with her team of uber-Orcs that she's spent the last six months honing to perfection. If you get tired of a character you can always retire it, or even recruit another Orc to take its place.

The game is still in mid-development, but if Berkeley Systems pulls it off you can start raising your very own Orcs this fall. And unlike Sea Monkeys, no water is needed.