Endless Legend: Shadows

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Endless Legend: Shadows Game Poster Image
Empire building takes dark turn in this strategic expansion.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players set their conditions for victory, whether positive or negative. Players who leave the game early called cowards for quitting the battlefield.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though expansion offers subterfuge, assassination, players can decide to create empires with other factions, use diplomacy as a leader of a civilization.

Ease of Play

There's a learning curve but also a very good tutorial, seven difficulty settings, interface that's relatively easy to pick up. Strategy veterans will be able to jump in quickly.

Violence

Players battle other factions, generated by computer, online human opponents. When defeated, armies (represented by small soldiers) simply fall down, disappear.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Endless Legend: Shadows is a downloadable expansion to Endless Legend that requires the original game to play. It's a real-time 4x (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) strategy game that can be played online or offline. Players can text-chat with one another in the online game, which could expose them to inappropriate content. The game has great customization features and often requires players to employ some strategy in building up their civilizations, often choosing between diplomacy and battle. Though combat results in army units falling down and disappearing from view, Shadows brings assassination, infiltration, and subterfuge into the equation by adding a 10th faction, the Forgotten. If parents are concerned about these elements being part of a game, it's probably better to pass on this expansion. 

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What's it about?

ENDLESS LEGEND: SHADOWS is a 4X turn-based strategy game that focuses on adding another faction to the nine already in place. This is actually the second expansion to the original game. Shadows introduces the Forgotten, a dark race that employs deception, infiltration, assassination, and sabotage into the world of Auriga. There are three new units: the assassin, predatore (which involves ranged attackers with crossbows), and myst ("myst" can change from solid to gas form to infiltrate enemy camps). In addition, players can send their heroes into other kingdoms to gather information or assassinate the governor. In addition, the Forgotten can slow the advance of enemy armies by pillaging conquered villages (a scorched-earth policy). The actual gameplay is unchanged, and the expansion is the new stealth system.

Is it any good?

A new faction twists the game world and enhances the fun. Endless Legend: Shadows treads into a new realm in the game world of Auriga and offers yet another way to lead your empire. The core elements -- menu navigation, the control scheme, and the look -- all are unchanged. This is still a very solid title, although players can opt out of the expansion and not suffer in any way. That said, this expansion offers ways to cripple the production of your opponents for several turns by attacking and taking out key buildings. For veterans of turn-based strategy games, maintaining stable or elevated production is a vital key to winning any campaign. Combat, though not broken before, hasn't undergone any changes and still seems like the poor cousin to the rich array of customization, the imaginative graphics, and the eXplore and eXpand elements of the game.

The new units can have very strong impacts in the midst of battle and can do a lot of damage quickly and quietly, but they appear to be more fragile than units from other factions -- especially if they encounter a faction that's worked up the tech tree and has improved armor. As a result, it's important to conquer or ally with other factions to bolster the strength of your forces, especially if fights take a while to resolve. Think of the Forgotten in terms of a paper tiger -- they're great for immediate damage but they can't last long in a fight. This puts the onus more on strategy to succeed with this faction. You may want to use the ranged predatores from a distance while you flank enemies with the assassins. All the while, you're getting your mysts to sneak behind enemy lines to take out ranged attackers or infiltrate unprotected cities, while more heavily armored conquered or allied factions take the frontal assault. Shadows is a solid experience that encourages players to be very underhanded and somewhat manipulative and evil within the context of the game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about strategy games. What parallels can be drawn to events in history? Can you think of examples of how civilizations innovated regarding the building of a society while exploring and conquering portions of the known world?

  • Talk about civilization games. What makes games such as these so appealing? Why do players enjoy the challenge of creating, building, and conquering in these titles?

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