Spellforce III plunges you into a deep world of fantasy without apology -- this gorgeous game coming from a lineage before it.

With all games, learning curves vary from title to title. Spellforce III's learning curve for a newcomer is quite steep--as I am now in this review, I've only played a handful of casual RTS's: Age of Empires (Mythology also) and spent a good chunk of my teenage years glued to the monitor with Starcraft and it's expansion Brood War. My knowledge coming into Spellforce was based on the previous few I had played: I expected to be able to control everything down to scrolling over the wildlife, and was met with a completely different system entirely. For those who thrive on RTS's, you can skip this as you're likely to roll your eyes, but for someone looking at the title on a whim having played a few classics...this is important. You're thrown into a blend of managing your resources and trudging forward in combat; the combat bit is straightforward enough, with a few sprinkles on top for flavour making it zesty and fun, but with the building aspect of the game it takes on a tougher approach. Anyone used to the system that Age of Mythology or Starcraft put in place by controlling and micromanaging your villagers will be handed some sad news--you're meant to allocate to a building, then they automate to their task. Now, being inexperienced in the whole genre, this could very well be a common ritual, but with the person simply buying on a whim because they played 'something like this' in the past, this could pose a problem. It's a relearned behaviour that can easily cost you a few rounds in a skirmish match. The CPU team, even on easy, is a brutal bunch to come up against.

The campaign mode is engaging, leads well into the whole game and has many highlights to it. The voice acting is hauntingly good down to the most insignificant NPCs. It introduces you into gameplay gently and easily, working a tutorial around the storyline and giving you a nice upper hand to experience some fun with it. The lore is rich in foundation and for any nerd a true treat to engage with. Races are well done with their mechanics and a true joy to play as well--heroes are as cool as they are tough.

There is no doubt that the main flag to be flown with Spellforce III is it's graphical abilities. Everything, down to the tiniest of detail is stunning. The character portraits are carefully done, the loading screens showcase amazing concept art of creatures and settings, and the settings themselves are everything a storybook could only strive for. Spellforce allows the player to zoom in with a mouse scroll, compromising nothing as you look with a closer eye upon your units, buildings and the nature surrounding it. Standing on it's own, this is simply the most stunning RTS I've ever had the joy of laying my eyes on--lush as it is structurally sound, it's something that rivals Diablo III without a doubt.

Spellforce III is not limited in its ability to please. It is a unique addition to the RTS RPG genre and it's not hard to see a lot of care was put into it. If you happen to be a fan of hardcore RTS's, then Spellforce is more than a fit for you--it's breathtakingly good. If you are a passing buyer, just scrolling through Steam for something new to play, I would do a bit a research before diving right in. Aside from that, Spellforce III is a marvel and a truly nice addition to any library.