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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RPG

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Heuristic Park

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

- Fun side quests

- Lots of character classes

- Unique, unconventional races to choose from

- Huge dungeons

- Good sound effects

 

 

- Dated visuals

- Weak voice acting

- Unintuitive controls and window navigation

- Can be difficult to see hotspots

- Can't save in towns

 

 

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Wizards & Warriors

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

The Wizardry series has provided some amazingly addictive role-playing for PC gamers over the last 20 years, from its humble beginnings in the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, to latter editions like Heart of the Maelstrom and Wizardry Gold. Helping create the fifth, sixth, and seventh installments in the series was D.W. Bradley, and now he and his development team have recently completed Wizards & Warriors. While a very respectable title, it does suffer from a number of technical sore points that weaken the play experience.

 

wiz_and_war-a.jpg (18487 bytes)         wiz_and_war-b.jpg (16870 bytes)

 

After playing Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer with its archaic graphics engine I was really hoping that Wizards & Warriors would provide a very visually pleasing world to explore. Sadly since this title has been in development for about four years its visuals look quite dated. Characters look very plain, with not much detail to them, but the real problem comes in the environments which appear pixilated and blotchy, a problem that is compounded when your party is out at night and can only see by the moonlight, a torch, or an illumination spell. The darkness can also be problematic in dungeons as it can make it very hard to see important hotspots where a key must be placed or where there may be a treasure chest lying about.

 

Unfortunately the audio doesnít fair much better. The music is largely ambient, helping to amplify the mood, although when it does pick up it has a console game vibe to it. By and large itís unmemorable music that doesnít leave any lasting impressions. Things get really bad when it comes to the voice acting however. Most of the characters have bad accents, or sound like theyíre trying too hard with their acting. There are some NPCs that do a good job and the narrator performs admirably, but for the most part the voice work is pretty bad. But not all is lost, as the sound effects are well done. The clanging of weapons, drips falling, wading through water, and whatnot all sound very realistic.

 

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Presentation and technical issues aside, the gameplay is decent. Like the Wizardry titles, Wizards & Warriors allows players to build their party members from scratch. At the onset of the game players only have basic classes to choose from: Warriors, Priests, Wizards, and Thieves. Eventually party members will be given the opportunity to join the guilds for these classes and will be able to go on quests that will earn them the right to 

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be promoted to elite classes like ninjas, samurai, barbarians, and warlocks. Whatís nice about the character creation process is that besides the traditional races, like elves, dwarves, and gnomes, there are some unique races thrown into the mix, like the ratlings and the elephant-like oomphaz. Each race has their own strengths, often making them gravitate towards certain classes. One area of the gameplay that could have used a little more work is the controls / window navigation. Control-wise there are hardly any hotkeys, which is very inconvenient. Sifting through the icons to get to the different screens or digging out items from inventory can also be a daunting task as it is often unintuitive. Some of it is possible to get used to, but itís still an aggravating experience. Of particular note is that the game doesnít allow saving in towns, if you want to save your progress you have to do so outside of them.

Questing is where the fun comes though. While the main quest in the game is to find a legendary sword to vanquish an ancient evil that recently returned, an incredibly trite quest if ever there was one, the side quests are what provide most of the fun. There are tons of extra quests to go on, from small ones for NPCs to far grander quests assigned by the different guilds. Adding to the fun is the sheer amount of lands there are to explore. Itís not just the overworld map that is gigantic, the dungeons are bloody huge too. There are plenty of side corridors that lead to loot, and generally a lot of ground to cover in this game. The only problem that these large environments brings is some lengthy load times between areas.

Wizards & Warriors is a respectable title despite its technical shortcomings. However, these problems canít be entirely ignored. The visuals are just too dated and will be tough for some to swallow and the unintuitive controls can be a real pain. But if players can look past this they may just find a series of quests that are to their liking.

- Mr. Nash

 

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