By Eric T. Baker

The Golden Horde from WordForge for the PC is a real-time strategy game set during the 13th century, right after the death the Genghis Khan. There are three campaigns: one for the Russians, one for the Crusaders, and one for the Mongols. In each case the player is pitted against the other powers in a series of battles and scenarios, some based on historical battles and events. Multiplayer is only supported over LAN; there is no Internet multiplayer support.

Besides its setting, what makes GH different from other RTS games is its RPG elements. Unlike other games, the player doesn’t build a different sort of barracks to create each unit type. Instead he uses barracks to create men, who then have to be trained as soldiers and equipped with weapons that are made in forges (or looted off the battlefields). On the plus side, this makes troops in GH more versatile because they can be archers one turn and spearmen the next. On the minus side, it takes a long time to build a fighting force because so many elements have to be created and brought together.

Overall, GH isn’t as good a game as it should have been. The graphics are colorful and 3-D, but there are not as many terrain types and figure animations as expected from the current generation of games. The lack of online play means that most players will only ever fight the AI. The controls are standard, but limited. There are rpg elements, but no compelling characters or story to help carry the player through the campaigns. GH is a fair game that has the virtue of being set in a time period that has not been done to death.

Combat Arms for the PC from Nexon is a first-person shooting online multiplayer death match game in the style of Counter-Strike. What makes it different from C-S, PlanetSide, Team Fortress, or any of the other purely multiplayer online shooting games on the market is that CA is completely free. It isn’t an add-on to some other game that has to be purchased and players don’t even need a credit card to download the client. Just go to the website, create an account, download the client, and jump in the game.

As for the game itself, there are a variety of modern small arms from assault rifles and machine guns to grenades and knives. All of the weapons are based on real-world munitions and most of them can be customized with things like silencers, scopes, and extended magazines that are purchased for in-game money. These upgrades can be transferred within a class of weapons, but not universally: a silencer bought for one assault rifle will work on another, but not on a pistol. The matches are for up to 16 people and player rankings are kept.

Nexon is promising monthly updates to CA in the form of new maps and weapons. On the way is a store that will let players buy cosmetic items for their characters and clans with real-world money. Nexon’s pledge is that anything with a combat effect will only be available for in-game money, so it is the players with the most skill and time logged who will have the best gear. CA is not as polished as some of its competitors, and hopefully Nexon will implement medkits or a healing class in one of its updates, but for the price, CA is a perfectly playable game.

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