|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: S2Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: S2Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-32||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The musical score in Savage 2 increases immersion ten fold with soothing music that builds at the beginning and transitions to heart-pounding percussion once the first players begin fighting. The music changes depending on specific events in the game. When a faction begins to spawn Hellbourne units, a dark-themed score begins while the sky turns dark red and rains ash and fire. The musical tracks themselves are so suiting to the game that players will be hesitant to run their favorite songs in the background.
The combat is what long-time fans have come to expect from Savage. Fast-paced melee, hectic charges, and long distance ranged exchanges are all ways players engage in combat. By default, melee combat is fought from a third-person perspective, allowing the player to see around and behind while ranged combat using bows, guns or magic are all in first-person. However, it is possible to switch ranged combat from first- to third-person. The combat hasn't changed much from the original, where players must time blocks and swings to keep from being stunned. If a player attacks an enemy currently blocking, he will be stunned for a short time, making him vulnerable. This isn't to say that the combat is mindless, but that it is simple to understand while requiring an amount of skill, timing, and strategy.
Despite the removal of upgraded weapons like the sniper bow, Savage 2 incorporates RPG elements by including an above-average stat-tracking system. Players will earn experience points that are persistent, allowing them to compare overall stats to other players on the player ladder. Furthermore, each match is recorded and given specific ID numbers, making it possible for players to go online and download a match's replay video, see who had the high scores, and rate the match's excitement. At the end of each match, players can rate their commander and leave a short message as well as provide "Karma" points to individual players.
Experience points and attribute points are reset after each match to ensure that a player with a ton of experience points can't join a game in progress and completely dominate. Experience points are earned by following the commander's orders, killing NPCs and enemies, repairing buildings and siege weapons, and healing and casting spells. Fast-paced combat not something you want to do all match long? If not, scouting and building are just as important and will earn you those experience points just the same. Once a player has earned enough experience points, a level is gained and more attribute points are available to place in the rather standard categories: strength, endurance, intelligence, and agility.
Despite all that Savage 2 does well, there are some minor problems. For example, poor terrain design comes into play when players are wasting time attempting to scale the smallest of rocks and getting stuck on edges can be commonplace depending on the map. For the commander, switching between building and resource management to squad control can be cumbersome, forcing the commander to click around randomly before being able to select the building icon. While most of these shortcomings can be remedied with a game update, there is also a bit of a learning curve for newcomers to the world of Newerth. Understanding the maps and game mechanics can be difficult and like most large-scale and team-oriented multiplayer games, it requires a bit of patience at first.
Unfortunately, the largest obstacle Savage 2 must overcome is a lack of exposure. With over 35,000 unique players registered, Savage 2 is growing but until it gains the popularity it deserves, one can expect to have difficulty finding popular servers. To its cause, S2Games does allow players to download a demo of the game, which is essentially a free trial, letting players play the full game for a limited time without stat tracking. Once the demo has expired, the player can choose whether to purchase an account.
Savage 2 is an action-packed multiplayer game that brings the three big genres together in an effective and fun way. It builds upon its predecessor with all new features while holding true to its overall feel and excitement. And, while it isn't a next-generation title, the game will provide all the exciting gameplay, depth of strategy, and replay value that gamers expect in today's multiplayer-only titles.
CCC Freelance Writer