Game Over Online ~ Arcomage

GameOver Game Reviews - Arcomage (c) 3DO, Reviewed by - Drexel Spivey

Game & Publisher Arcomage (c) 3DO
System Requirements Pentium 133, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 34%
Date Published Monday, February 28th, 2000 at 01:10 AM

Divider Left By: Drexel Spivey Divider Right

Arcomage was originally found within Might & Magic VII: For Blood and Honor, a game within a game that was reminiscent of the popular card game Magic: The Gathering. Adventurers might come across a deck of Arcomage cards, amongst their travels, and would be able to use those cards to take on opponents in the local town taverns. It was a quest of sorts, designed to give adventurers a break from the constant barrage of combat found in Might & Magic VII. Arcomage became so popular that many gamers loaded up Might & Magic VII simply to enter a tavern and play a hand or two. The fan mail began to pour into 3DO and the end result is upon us, a standalone version of Arcomage.

The story behind Arcomage is a simple one. It revolves around the Arcomage Guild found within the city of Shrikar, a school dedicated to the knowledge brought to Shrikar by an Emissary of the god Ceth. Graduation from the Guild bestowed the title of Arcomage upon the worth student, one who understood and excelled in the way of Weaving, Control and Building. It's been hundreds of years since the Arcomage Guild was founded and war has broken out across the land, Arcomage Wars, and your skills and tactics are about to be put to the test.

Arcomage is a single or two player card game in which the goal is to either build your tower to a certain height, build up your resources to a certain quantity, or destroy your opponent's tower before your enemy can achieve any of these conditions. Each player takes turns and at the start of each turn, their kingdom produces a quantity of each resource equal to the strengths of various resource generators. You then draw cards that represent creatures, spells or artifacts which are used to produce varying effects. Sound a little like Magic: The Gathering? Well, the similarities don't stop there.

Arcomage cards are broken down into color schemes. Blue cards use Gems produced by the player's Magic Academy and provide a variety of utility spells. Red cards rely on Bricks which are produced by the player's Quarry. Red cards are based on the principal of building. Last but not least, Green cards focus on power and creatures and use Recruits which are produced by the player's Dungeons. Each card has a resource cost that must be met in order to bring out the particular card. Once a player has paid the casting cost of a card, another card is immediately drawn into the player's hand and can also be cast as long as the player has the resources to do so. Besides the objective of the game, the ability to draw multiple cards a turn is the biggest difference between Arcomage and Magic.

Arcomage worked well in Might & Magic VII because it acted as a diversion, a break from the monotony of endless combat. As a standalone game, its shortcomings are magnified and its staying power is broken down. When Microprose released Magic: The Gathering, they created a world around the card game, one that featured elements of action and adventure to ensure the title wouldn't become repetitive and dull too quickly. Arcomage fails to be anything more than the actual card game, not that there's anything wrong with that as I'm sure many gamers out there just wanted to play the card game, but there are further shortcomings. Magic: The Gathering excels in terms of presentation, Arcomage is extremely plain and simple. There's nothing flashy about the design of the cards themselves, let alone the interface in the game. Finally, Arcomage is limited in comparison to Magic when it comes to variety of cards.

Where Arcomage excels is in multiplayer. Arcomage was clearly created for the main purpose of playing against opponents over the Internet. Player's can find other gamers over Mplayer, free of charge, and 3DO's Arcomage website will be up to date with the latest standings and news regarding online play. You can also play Arcomage over a network. Where Magic features an extremely popular card game version, Arcomage can only be found on your PC, so this is the only way you'll be able to play this particular game. While it does offer single player options, nothing beats the challenge of a real life opponent and multiplayer is where its at for Arcomage.

I'm well aware of the circumstances surrounding Arcomage. As I said before, it was a game within Might & Magic VII that was so popular 3DO was talked into releasing a standalone version. I'm sure this review isn't going to change the feelings of those who loved Arcomage in its original form. In fact, I'm sure I'll hear a few comments from those people regarding how good they think this game is. I'm writing this review more for those who didn't play Might & Magic VII, who don't know what Arcomage is, and who only know that Arcomage is a Magic: The Gathering clone. Arcomage comes at a cheap price but in its standalone form, it's simply a fantasy card game that becomes repetitive extremely fast. Perhaps Arcomage would have been better left in the Might & Magic realm.

Graphics [5/20]
Sound [5/15]
Gameplay [9/30]
Funfactor [8/20]
Multiplayer [4/5]
Overall Impression [3/10]


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