Warhammer is a pretty big name right now. With the launch of Mythic's epic MMORPG Warhammer Online and previous successes with the Warhammer 40K setting in the PC real-time strategy market, it makes sense for a console game to take advantage of the name recognition. Thus have Black Hole Games and Namco Bandai brought us Warhammer: Battle March, a remake of the PC RTS Warhammer: Mark of Chaos that came out back in 2006. Console ports of real-time strategy titles haven't fared all that well in the past, but over the last couple of years we've seen a bit of a reversal in the trend, with console owners getting their first taste of what RTS gaming is truly about. Does Battle March advance the war for compelling console RTS experiences, or does it turn tail and flee in the face of progress? Red and blue meet on the battlefield, after the jump.
Epic Soundtrack: Composer Jeremy Soule is the go-to guy if you want your game to sound legendary and epic. His work in Battle March is particularly excellent, especially considering the general blandness of the rest of the game's sound.
Detailed Units: Developers did an excellent job of reproducing classic Warhammer units in virtual form. A few a might be a little bit off, but for the most part very nicely done. The environments they march through are a bit on the bland side, but considering the setting it works.
Complicated Controls: The controls in Warhammer: Battle March on the Xbox 360 are ridiculously complicated to the point where they turn an average RTS into a complete mess. Complicated button combinations are the rule of the day, and I often found myself lost while trying to figure out which combination of the right trigger, analogue sticks, and directional pad would return my view to default.
Story? What Story?: Having not played the original PC version Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, the dazzling opening cinematic led me to believe I was in for an epic tale of legendary heroism, but once the game actually started up the story turned out to be as bare bones as the actual gameplay. There's a big war. Go.
Simple Gameplay: While I am not a big fan overly-complex RTS games, I do like to get my hands a little dirty and try out complicated maneuvers, etc. Battle march pretty much makes that unnecessary, leading you from objective to objective with no deeper strategy needed than outnumbering the other guy.
There have been several above-average to excellent RTS games for the Xbox 360 at this point - Supreme Commander, Battle for Middle Earth, and Command and Conquer 3 to name a few - and I was really beginning to think that the genre was finally getting to a point where it could flourish on a console machine. Then comes Warhammer: Battle March, stumbling onto the Xbox 360 with controls so complicated I had to play through the tutorials twice. Honestly I've not been so tripped up by a game's controls in years. This would have been a halfway decent game with entertaining (if a bit sparsely populated) multiplayer if not for the fact that the control frustrations permeate ever aspect of the title.
Warhammer: Battle March is a stunning example of why RTS games tend to struggle with console audiences, only serving as a good excuse for Warhammer fans to revisit the PC version.
Warhammer: Battle March, developed by Black Hole Entertainment and published by Namco Bandai was released on Sept. 2nd for the Xbox 360. Retails for $59.99. Played through three campaigns on normal difficulty, played one online match but had difficulty finding open games, played several versus CPU skirmishes.
Confused by our reviews? Read our review FAQ.