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Wizards & Warriors

Wizards & Warriors
3
Platforms: PC
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Heuristic Park
Genres: RPG / Classic Role-Playing
Release Date: September 27, 2000
Game Modes: Singlepalyer

14_1A few gameplay issues cripple this RPG.

Before taking on the enormous challenge that is Wizards & Warriors, you need to ask yourself how much you love classic dungeon crawls. Not classic in the sense that Baldur’s Gate 2 is a classic game. Think more along the lines of Wizardry VI and VII, and all of those recurring Might & Magic games and the killing of endless monsters and hoarding of junk that they offered to the player. Wizards & Warriors is classic role-playing in the retro sense, with all of its glories and difficulties.

What Wizards & Warriors has, however, it has in abundance. Quests and monsters, as well as the kind of in-depth character system you’d expect. The game focuses on the classic dungeon crawl, and in that it succeeds. You’ll find hours and hours of playtime here and countless quests to pursue, ranging from guild-based tasks that increase your rank and ability to standard FedEx assignments. The number and variety of quests assures that you’ll always have something to do, even when the main plot is stagnant.

The game has a central story, though it lacks a lot of depth. An evil pharaoh has returned from his grave to wreak inconvenience on the people of the Gael Serran. Only the mythical Mavin Sword can stop this tyrant, and it’s up to you to find it. You and your party of up to five other adventurers—all of whom you create from scratch using a detailed character creation system. Your main quest soon leads to treks through darkened crypts, strange bodies of water, various towns, and dungeons dark and deep. It isn’t original, but then, neither is most of the game.

Since this is a party-based game there isn’t a lead character. Your game will end only if all of your party members die, and dead heroes can be raised to life again at the local church. The game includes ten races and fifteen classes. You start with a choice of four basic classes for each character—warrior, wizard, rogue, and priest. As you advance and train in guilds, characters can to change to elite classes such as barbarian, bard, monk, warlock, etc. After that, if you study hard and complete the right quests, there are further special classes (Assassin, Zenmaster, and Valkyrie). It’s a commendably deep character system.

The non-player characters may react differently to whichever character is highlighted at the time. Some NPCs are prejudiced or partial to a specific race. Consequently, you will have to remain aware of who is doing the talking, since to get credit for a quest the same character that received it must talk to the NPC who granted it when it’s done. There are numerous other little quirks as well. Monsters seem to be completely oblivious of each other; if multiple types attack you, they all will focus on you and ignore anything else. This applies to NPC’s as well; if you are talking to someone in the woods and bandits attack, the speaker will think you’re ignoring him, unaware that your party members are fighting for their lives all around him.

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The general interface of the game is clunky; you’re likely to find it downright unintuitive and annoying. The box claims both real-time and turn-based combat, but actually pausing the game is merely a side effect of bringing up an in-game menu. At its core, fights are chaotic click-fests. Spell casters can use magic, but the interface for selecting spells in battle is incredibly thick, involving a series of sub-menus. The game doesn’t pause for essential actions like replacing gear, spells or using healing potions, and the interface sucks at streamlining these actions for real-time play.

Wizards & Warriors proves to be a mixed bag. The game mechanics are full of holes, the interface is clunky and unintuitive, the puzzles can be obscure. Still, the game’s focus on character progression and dungeon crawls adds challenging depth and interest. The large number of quests, monsters to kill, and places to explore is sure to keep veteran dungeon crawlers occupied.


System Requirements: Pentium 200Mhz with 64MB RAM, 16 MB Video, Win95

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