Last March, I reviewed Orions: Legend of Wizards, one of the best Windows Mobile game I have had the opportunity to review. I have seen some developers in the past who release a game and then rest on their laurels. The attitude seems to be, we released a great game now you all go and enjoy it. No need for improvement. Now, Pocket More Games would probably have been well justified if they had done that and just left the game as it was. Fortunately for us, they seem to have shunned this attitude by releasing an expansion pack for their incredibly popular Orions game.
Orions: The Second Age expands upon and adds features to the original Orions: Legend of Wizards. It is not a standalone game, and it does require the original game in order to run. Because this game is an expansion of the original, all of the basic rules still apply. This review, therefore, will not look at the basics of the game. For that, you can see my original in-depth review of Orions: Legend of Wizards. Instead, I will be limiting my focus only to the features of Orions: The Second Age which are new or updates from the original game.
Changes to the Deck: With this follow up to the popular Orions: Legend of Wizards, Pocket More Games has added a whopping 30 new cards, that is five new cards in each of the six elemental categories. I am not going to walk through each of the new cards here. That would take far too long, and Werner has already written an extremely detailed analysis of all of the new cards. You can see his article on his Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine blog.
One thing that impressed me about the new cards, however, was the Pocket More Games really seems to have listened to their core users with this update. The forums were ripe with discussions and ideas for new cards. I am very impressed by how many of the new cards in the game actually derived from the discussions in the forum.
Changes to Campaign Mode: One of my chief complaints about campaign mode in the original game was that the “enemy” character seemed to be a little to passive. He did not often attack and never built anything on his Orions. Not so in The Second Age. Now, the enemy is considerably more intelligence, and will even build on his Orions if he needs to. In fact, the entire campaign mode AI has been reworked to make the game more enjoyable.
A second complaint I noted was that it was not easy to move across your Orions. Once you had progressed into the game, you would have to travel one-by-one across the Orions until you reached your destination. This could be quite cumbersome and time consuming. I was extremely pleased to find that Pocket More Games has addressed this concern as well by adding teleportation, which allows you to jump from your present location to any of the other Orions under your control. Now, you do not have to spend five minutes traveling back to your original Orion just to build a few Ents. Just teleport over, grab the Ents and teleport back.
Another welcome addition in campaign mode is the new Black Market. The Black Market (shown above) can be built on any Orion, and allows you to purchase various cards (at a steep increase in price). This is a fantastic way to obtain a powerful card which you might not otherwise be able to find.
One disappointment I had, however, was that you still cannot built a customized deck to use in campaign mode. Part of the fun of this kind of game is assembling your own deck. I would love to see a feature which allows you to select cards to build your own custom deck at the beginning of the game. This could be easily done, for example, by giving you a pool of points and assigning points values to each card. You could select an extremely powerful card, but that might limit your options later in the deck building process. This would add a whole new dimension of strategy as you determine which cards would be most important to add to your deck.
Along the same lines as campaign mode, this is a game which would do extremely well with quests or missions. This would add a new element of excitement to the campaign, where your ultimate goal would be to complete a task, rather than defeat an enemy or conquer all of the Orions.
Changes to Duel Mode: In addition to updating campaign mode, numerous new options have been added which allow you to customize duel mode. Now, before you begin, you can select to use the extended deck, choose non-uniform decks, and even activate no spells mode. I absolutely loved the variety this added to the game. The different options ensure that you can start with a different deck, suited to your liking, every time. I do wish, however, that these new options could also be applied to campaign mode.
I was disappointed, however, to find that there is still no option to play head-to-head via Bluetooth. While Orions offers a fantastic Internet option, it would be nice to be able to quickly connect to a friend’s device via Bluetooth or Infrared Beaming. Additionally, it would be nice to add a tournament mode, in which any number of players could participate in a massive head-to-head tournament until there is only one player standing.
Update: Shortly after posting this review, in which I mentioned the need for tournament style play, I found this link to an Orions online tournament in the forums. This is an unofficial but sanctioned by Pocket More Games site which hosts tournaments for players of Orions: The Second Age. Enjoy!
Conclusion: I was extremely pleased to see the release of this Orions expansion pack. Orions: Legend of Wizards is probably the best and most complex game I have played on the Pocket PC, and The Second Age expansion pack made this great game even better. Many of the concerns I noted (and there were not very many) were addressed in this expansion pack, including the addition of 30 new cards, teleportation, and Black Market (which I did not specifically request, but was happy to see). Nonetheless, I do hope there will be further expansion packs coming soon. There are still many features which I would love to see, including quests, customizable decks, and more. Until then, however, I will be waiting at the Black Market. Don’t worry, now you can just teleport over there and purchase your own Black Mage(don’t know what that is? You will have to check out Orions: The Second Age to find out.
Name: Orions: The Second Age
Platform: WM 6
Also Available: WM 2003SE, WM5
Developer: More Games Entertainment
Available From: Pocket More Games
Price: $9.95 (Requires Orions: Legend of Wizards to be installed first)
All images were taken from the Orions: The Second Age website.