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If you have any experience whatsoever with games such as Master of Magic, Heroes of Might and Magic, or the Warlords series (the original games, not the Battlecry spin-offs) then Disciples 2 will seem quite familiar. However, it has quite a few things going for it that not only produces an easier to learn experience, but provides a breadth of options despite its seemingly simplistic systems.
Like any other game of the sort, Disciples 2 provides you with a capital city, a hero (which you can export to carry across scenarios as he improves) and allows you to explore a map filled with monsters, treasures, and land to be conquered.
What makes these maps unique however, is the incredible atmosphere that exudes from every single pixel within Disciples 2's majestic world. The music is at times haunting, at times beautiful, and typically always carries a low, somewhat soothing (and at times, eerie) tone throughout gameplay. This means Disciples 2 carries none of the crass and obnoxious bass heavy orchestral soundtracks that Fantasy games seem to like so much (I'm looking at you TES, tone it down). Equally beautiful is the terrain and units, Disciples 2 maintains a very dark stylized look, every unit and hero has its own unique personality, and the artwork provided for each unit is very high quality.
Backing up this gorgeous display of aesthetic is an equally impressive combat system, unlike Heroes of Might and Magic, combat in Disciples 2 is carried out by individual units rather than representation by number of mass armies, units will always do a similar amount of damage no matter their health. However, this provides an extra layer of strategy as you cannot simply amass hordes of pathetic units and whittle down your enemy, victory is obtained through careful training and combat of your units. Your soldiers regularly upgrade into stronger variants as they gain experience, what they upgrade into depends on the structures built at your Capital, an Empire (one of the four races present, an additional race is also available in Rise of the Elves) Squire for example, will upgrade into a Knight if the player built a Stable.
There are separate trees of construction available, so picking one upgrade path over another will cut off the other, forcing you to pick and choose strategically based on which you believe will serve you best.
Gameplay is tight and there are very few bugs present, I could only count a few, such as one annoying bug that appeared when playing windowed where a turn would not cease loading until you click on another window and return to the Disciples 2 process, which causes windowed play to be more of a chore than it should be.
Disciples 2 does possess a few problems that prevent it from achieving a 5 star rating in this critique, first off, the AI on any difficult below Hard is incredibly imbecilic, often sending decently leveled heroes with upgraded units straight into powerful Neutral units that tear them up. This wouldn't be a problem if the AI resorted to such stupid tactics rarely, but the AI seems quite inclined to perform such actions repeatedly in a single game, eventually providing little challenge to the player. This would most likely have lowered the score even more if it weren't for the fact that the AI on the harder difficulties is quite intelligent without cheating.
Another apparent problem in Disciples 2 is that there's a small amount of scenarios. While all four races carry length campaigns (labeled "Sagas"), it's disappointing to see only a dozen scenario maps.
These problems don't drag down the whole of Disciples 2 however, and the systems within the game are so well sculpted and polished that the scenarios you do play will be incredibly entertaining.
Worth playing for fans of HoMM, Warlords and MoM, and even for TBS players who would like to enjoy a little fantasy kick.