Since most of us here at BG come from a heavy pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons background this was a title that peaked our interests a few months back. This franchise is well overdue for a revamped series that is accessible in multi and single player scenarios. Atari and Wizards of the Coast seem to know this but can they bring our dice rolling fantasy to our console/PC and do it justice? Lets see…
I want to end this on a good note so just let me get the bad stuff out of the way. I’m not going to fill you in on a story background, this is a ‘hack and slash’ game. The story seems sort of back seat to you runnning around looting barrells and killing goblins. We all could expect this from an ‘arcade’ type game. So don’t expect heavy dialogue (just heavy dwarf grunting), and missions like – go kill these guys here, go destroy that mine shaft there, escort this fella over here so he can make you a new shiny sword..etc. Very lack luster, but like I said, I don’t care much about that here, what I wanna know is if it’s fun for me, or worth my time to invest the 1200 microsoft points to satisfy my RPG fix on our occasional sober weekend nights.
Im a stickler on customization of my character, I will spend much too much time making my toon. Like hours if I can’t get it right. Outfitting and gear are a big part of RPGs for me. That was my first big dissappointment here. You get to pick one of four basic D&D Class/Races. Elf rogue, Dwarf cleric, Human warrior, and a Halfling mage (with corn rolls). No hair or face options, just what you see is what you get. They could of given us a few Male/Female options atleast. Big minus for me…
This was suppost to be a transfer of 4th edition rules right? Well at 3rd level I seem to have acquired 145hp (If I remember I should have around 25hp). The weapon damages are all accurate why wouldnt the players HP reflect that also? Maybe too many dots or since it’s not turn based combat they decided to give us a nice cushiony buff. Probably for the better, but still… D&D nerds will notice their numbers not adding up.
Button mashing. The combat is lots of hitting ‘X’ over and over with the slight special attack thrown in there…somewhat repetitive. It does work, and well we all kinda figured we’d be spamming and spamming to see how much we ‘crit’ for, or how much our ‘backstab’ hits at. It would of been nice to include some tatics here and there, and maybe multi-ing it with friends could lead to flanking mobs, or kiting strategies to handle some of the swarms of mobs that are hurled at you. Respawns of critters seems to be fast also, for those who are into blind ‘XP farming’.
Once you get past the button spamming and getting over the “I wanted to play a female dwarf to see if she could have a beard”, this game has some nice appeal for the BusyGamer. Quick runs with your friends, levelling up and searching for new gear I will never get tired of. The weapon and armor merchants have random items that are level based, they do change between saves it sorta seems, since I was frequently returning to vendors to see what they may have added. And these items reflect well on your character, better swords glow, bows have fire around them that do ‘fire damage’, and armors change your appearance accordingly. This is do like. When I upgrade my weapon, it should make me feel ‘upgraded’. I see that instead of adding character options, they just added a ton of different loot.
Blood and stuff. The fighting animations are very stylized. Nice blood splats and poision clouds from deadly arrows were a nice touch. Fireballs look like fireballs. Ice spells keep you rooted with ice shards coming out of the ground. It’s good to see the power of these smaller DL’d games be used, and they didn’t skimp on the effects.
The level maps are pretty big. I found myself really looking at the UI map of the cave areas to see what spots or treasure chests I may have missed. They are well marked with quest givers, vendors, and objectives so you wont get lost and caught back in a horde of respawned baddies.
Levelling seems adequately rewarding, not too fast, actually seemed a bit slow, but over all will make the game a good 12hrs or so to finish. Which is pretty fat for a DL.
Good if you want a quick jump in and loot some mobs and try to get some upgraded gear. Good if you like a game that you could probably have fun with over XBLive with your buddies while drinking a beer at the same time. Good if you like attention to detail with some nice casting and magic item effects, that reflect well on your playing style, and good if you understand this is not a Dragon Age, or even Baulders Gate caliber of game. Bad if you want good story, indepth character customization, combat tactics, turn based strategy, or a game that requires you to think a whole lot more than past your ‘X’ button. It’s a quick ‘hack and slash let’s see how fast we can dps this mofo down’ type of game, and that’s exactly what I think WOTC and Atari set out to do.