|System: PC*, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Cyanide Studios, Spider|
|Pub: Focus Home Interactive|
|Release: October 11, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
Now, I'm sure there are other ways to go about it. Arkhail has a "defensive" stance that's designed to stop him from going berserk, though usually there's no reason for it—it can be annoying when Arkhail kills Styx, or when he gets himself killed during his cooldown period, but the sheer amount of damage he inflicts while he's hopped on on adrenaline makes it all worth it. And you could use your level-up points to make up for your characters' shortcomings instead of emphasizing their good points, though that would go against years of RPG tradition.
But overall, I found the battles getting a little repetitive. The fighting was never boring, per se, but it did lose its more visceral aspects as time went on and I settled into a well-worn bag of tricks. Of Orcs and Men needs more enemy types that force you to change your strategy, and perhaps a move set with more variety as well. The available enemies do have their weaknesses, but taking advantage of them never seems as crucial as it should.
The battle system is easily the game's primary feature, but the other fundamentals of game-making are handled fairly well too. The graphics are up to the standards of the current generation, with detailed environments and excellent lighting and shadow work. I did notice some pop-in and twitching, though, and the facial animations leave something to be desired as well. Meanwhile, the music is a mixed bag, with tunes that try to evoke nature but often sound computer-generated. And while the controls don't really matter, because you can pause the game every time you need to give instructions for your character, the developers did include the option to map attacks to various buttons, and I found the menus easy to navigate.
There's also a plot here, of course, and it's mildly entertaining. The dialogue isn't particularly well-written, there's too much gratuitous profanity, and the voice acting is mediocre, but the bantering among the various characters comes through. Eventually you find yourself feeling invested in the tale's outcome.
All in all, Of Orcs and Men is a success, thanks mainly to its innovative battle system. And best of all, there's plenty of room to improve the formula in sequels and other games; this franchise could be unstoppable if it adds better character development options and more variety in its combat. It's far from perfect, but Of Orcs and Men is fun and unique, and that's a winning combination for any video game.
Date: October 15, 2012