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.