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Magic & Mayhem: The Art of Magic: The Art of ?The Art of Magic?

I recently sat down with a beta build of Bethesda Softworks? upcoming game, The Art of Magic, more properly known as Magic & Mayhem: The Art of Magic. As the title may tell you, this is indeed the sequel -- well, prequel -- to the original Magic & Mayhem. And while the geniuses at Mythos Entertainment aren?t the developers of The Art of Magic, some very sharp folk at Climax seem to be picking up the series and adding some panache.

For those who never played the original title, suffice it to say that Magic & Mayhem was a very early Strategy/RPG combo, along the lines of Rage of Mages. You commanded your wizard around, along with a number of creature units, in an attempt to stomp all over your opponent. The game was good, even if it had a hell of a learning curve. The Art of Magic keeps a lot of the same ideas -- creature summoning and mana management still play large roles -- but it catapults the series into a more modern day.

The first thing veterans will notice when they start playing The Art of Magic is the new 3D engine. It?s sharp and quite usable; while there are a number of things like buildings that can obscure your point of view, a simple mouse click clips off the top of everything and lets you see inside the houses and under the trees. The characters are fairly well animated, and undoubtedly they?ll be getting better as the game progresses towards completion. But the meat of the title, of course, is the gameplay. And even at this early stage, The Art of Magic has it in spades. There?s even some storyline to get embroiled in, involving the destruction of one of the three balancing spheres of the world and the coming-of-age of Aurax -- that?s you.

The basic concept is simple, yet it allows a world of variation. You?re given a number of talismans, each having one of three alignments: Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. You also are given (or find) a number of components to put in the talisman. Each component has three spells that it can cast, depending on the talisman that it?s placed into. Of course, you?ll inevitably want two spells that have to use the same bit of stuff, so you have to strategize and figure out just what you should take into battle. Once there, you can fling spells with the best of them, summon beasts, and the like. As you complete levels (and little side-quests inside of them), you gain experience, letting you raise your mana, health, and even the number of beasties you can control.

The Art of Magic looks like a solid offering in the RTS/RPG blend genre; with a solid graphics engine and inviting gameplay, there?s a lot to like. I just wish the main character walked a bit faster. But considering the rough state of the game, I doubt much balancing had been done on our build. We?ll let you know more about this upcoming title as soon as we get the final version.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Windows America Windows Ballistics

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