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Wizards & Warriors

Score: 90%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Heuristic Park
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

First things first: don’t bother with hardware acceleration. Although the models look a touch better, they still look fantastic in software mode, and your eyes will appreciate the lack of “blending” on the screen fonts. The graphics are much sharper, and still quite delicious.

And, I must say, Wizards & Warriors is one of the better looking RPGs I’ve ever seen. From the “dungeons” to the forests, the whole thing is a treat for the eyes. It’s like Ultima Underworld times a couple, and quite nice. I really liked the way that the towns are done -- a scrolling 2D “line” with 3D structures, giving the illusion of depth without having to wander around aimlessly in town looking for the shops. Very nice. The enemy models and character models are all very nice as well, detailed without being overdone. The “world is going to end” hand motions that the characters make while talking are a tad distracting, but a small nuisance at worst.

The music is nice, with the sweeping tones and majestic feel that an epic RPG needs. The sound effects are fine, neither fantastic nor bad, with satisfying grunts, slices, thwangs and the like. And the voice-acting is very good. While perhaps not in the same league as Metal Gear Solid (what is?), Wizards & Warriors has a voice cast that complements the game very well. The characters string the various phrases together to make the conversations, allowing for a lot more speech than would be possible otherwise. Very, very nice.

With a solid showing in both the graphical and aural departments, one must ask: how is the game itself?


The answer is, damned entertaining. While it’s perhaps a little too complex for its own good at times, and it has its issues with picking up smallish objects, Wizards & Warriors is an excellent return to the old-school RPG style.

You are the Hero, out to recover the Mavin Sword and save the world. Yes, it’s a trite plot, but all classic RPGs had trite plots, so this isn’t necessarily a Bad Thing. On the way, you’ll encounter tons of NPCs, go on lots of side-quests if you choose, and slice up enemies in classic action-RPG style. It’s fun, if at first a bit overwhelming, but in the end, Wizards & Warriors gives you more RPG bang for your buck than most games out there.

The first thing you do is create your characters. There are a multitude of races to choose from, from your standard Elves, Dwarves, and Humans, to the more interesting Gnomes and Pixies and the damned cool Ratlings, Whiskahs, and elephantine Oomphaz. Every race has certain advantages and disadvantages, and picking the right mix of race and class can make or break your party. At the beginning, there are only four classes to choose from -- Warrior, Wizard, Priest, and Rogue -- but as the game progresses, your characters can “specialize” in various other classes, such as Monks, Ninjas, Warlocks and Samurai. This sort of progression keeps things interesting, giving you more character options and giving you new things to do well into the endgame.

After creating your characters, you set off on your adventures. The towns are basically 2D, but the rest of the world is rendered in real-time 3D. You’ll find yourself maneuvering through many different landscapes, which run the gamut from treed sanctuaries to foreboding crypts and everything in between. As the game happens in real-time, time passes, and you may find yourself far from civilization in the middle of the night. Eep.

When combat breaks out, you can choose between a fully real-time system, where you click on the enemy to have each person attack, or you can “pause” the game and carry out commands step-by-step. This sort of configure-ability gives you the most leeway, letting you slow things down for the important battles, but simply “click through” the easy encounters on the way to your goals.

And speaking of goals, Wizards & Warriors is jam-packed with side-quests. The box touts 200 hours of gameplay, and although I feel that it’s an exaggeration, there’s still a good hundred hours of gameplay if you want to go on every quest and find every item that you can. This is a title that you won’t be putting down for a long time.

It has its issues, however. Picking up small objects can be a major pain, and the jumping and climbing is exceedingly irritating. Of course, it was irritating back in Ultima Underworld as well, but that’s no excuse. And, for a newcomer to the genre, Wizards & Warriors can be exceedingly overwhelming. The wealth of options and gameplay styles can make even a veteran gamer a little antsy.


Once you understand just how the game works, how combat runs, and how to scour areas for any items that you need, Wizards & Warriors is not an impossible game. It’s long, and you’ll need to do some level-building at various points to beat some tough bad guys, but the game never seems terribly unfair. And although the jumps and whatnot may irritate you, regular saving and a patient attitude can get you past any of the more “action”-oriented sections of the game.

Game Mechanics:

The controls, once learned, are simple enough, with basically everything driven by the mouse. Only occasionally will you need to hit the keyboard, and even then, there are few buttons and they’re all easily memorable. The menus are clear and understandable, although I thought that the button to delete a character was perhaps a little too well-hidden. And the game itself is as balanced as you want it to be -- you can have more enemies spawn if you like a challenge or less if you just want to play the game. You can also change the difficulty of the enemies themselves.

Wizards & Warriors is an RPG in the old-school style, reminiscent of Wizardry (which makes sense -- D.W. Bradley designed this and the last few Wizardry titles) and other such titles. It has its little issues, and it’s perhaps a little too involved at times, but nonetheless, Wizards & Warriors is a wonderful romp through a beautiful role-playing world. No fan of the genre or style should be without it.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

233 MHz P2, 64MB RAM, Win9X, 880MB HD space, 4X CD-ROM, DX7.0 video card, 16-bit sound card, mouse, keyboard

Test System:

AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256MB RAM, Creative Sound Blaster Live! Sound Card, Creative TNT2 Ultra w/32MB RAM, 6X/24X DVD-ROM

Windows Wheel of Time Windows X: Beyond the Frontier

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated