Patched -- an honest second look at Elemental: War of Magic

Where does Elemental stand? If you already own the game, it's not a bad idea to check in and see what progress has been made. Though the two largest problems--the incompetent AI and bland world--still stare you in the face and remind you why Elemental remains the year's biggest disappointment for strategy gamers, the raft of seemingly minor fixes do a lot to assure me that Stardock is on the right track.

Most of the changes are small ones, things that you might not even notice happening unless you had played the previous version for dozens of hours--and seriously, how many people could that have been? But 1.1 makes the game more stable, more intuitive, and a little more fun to watch unfold.

If you do not own Elemental, I recommend holding off until the first expansion. It promises to introduce material that will directly address the problems of world-building as well as other things that will make this fantasy epic more fantastical. Elemental's core issue is that it can't really suck you into its world. If you felt that the AI was doing interesting things that you couldn't see or that it would present a strategic puzzle to crack, then maybe you could forgive the fact that the world of Elemental is neither charming like a fairy tale nor dark and brooding like a modern fantasy novel.

This is a taller order than any patch can fill. What has been fixed makes me cautiously optimistic about what is to come. But I won't be revisiting Elemental much more until the next chapter in the story is written.