Warlords 2: Rise of Demons
Controls are simple. Between levels, use the mouse to upgrade and buy units, and to choose a territory to attack on the map. During levels, Use the [left] and [right] [arrow] keys to switch between potential units. Units are on timers, so the massive and lumbering giant troll unit takes 8 times as long to prepare as the quick and easy spearman. Once you decide on a unit and the timer counts down to ready, your arrow on the battlefield will turn yellow. Use the [up] and [down] [arrow] keys to decide what row you want and then hit [spacebar] to release your unit. There he goes, toddling off for the right side of the screen. Brave little chap.
Certain units can be upgraded so that they have a special form which requires waiting for their timer to fill up twice before launching them. In these cases, units can be launched as the normal version when the timer goes around in red, or you can wait until the timer goes around a second time in blue to launch the special version. As you kill enemies, you'll charge a meter which will allow you to unleash one unit of a given kind in every row at once by pressing [Q]. Once you've overrun your enemy, you'll be rewarded with gold depending on how fast you beat the level and how difficult it was, and sent back to the unit menu. Buy or upgrade something, hit the map and choose a new target, and wash, rinse, repeat!
[WASD] can be used as an alternative to arrow keys. In local multiplayer, the left hand player must be [WASD] and the right hand player must be arrow keys. If real life intrudes, don't forget [P] to pause.
Analysis: According to the game designer in the time leading up to the release of the game, he intended to weaken a certain mindless spamming technique that allowed a savvy/lazy player to coast through the first game with ease. However, the fundamental principle of the technique still works in Warlords 2. It's just tweaked to be more of a mindful spamming technique this round. Truth be told, I don't find this that much of a weakness. You can still play the game as it was "meant to be played" if you want, and fall back on the technique only when you get frustrated. Players like to find game breakers, anyway. Imagine if you were playing a perfectly balanced fighting game. Why, you'd feel as uneasy as if the calls were coming from inside the house.
The original was pretty much plot free other than the implied motivation of world conquest. Warlords 2 has some really lovely voice acting in its introductory and victory sequences, but the problem is that the scenario makes the gameplay seem like a series of spectacularly bad military decisions. What strategist's first reaction to the news that a hellish race of demons is preparing to rain down extradimensional summons is to preemptively attack every other innocent territory around, on multiple fronts at once to boot? I know that it's a bit of a cliche in the gaming world for gameplay not to return story's calls or read his emails, but it didn't have to be this way. A sweet little megalomaniacal fable where you, the player, are told you're going to march over and take everybody's else's right-side-of-the-screens because you don't like their face or the way they cut their cucumber sandwiches would have suited the gameplay down to the ground.
That said, what you have here is an already great game that has been further improved in basically every respect, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Sure to please fans of the original and lure in fresh meat, I mean new ones.