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Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Score: 94%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: D3
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

The word casual gaming is as much a buzz word as any other in today's gaming scene. Simple puzzle games are extremely addictive, and studies show that workers spend hours of their day destroying personal productivity with these type of games. Now, take a game like Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords that adds a very simplistic RPG element, which is in itself immersive and addictive, and basically you have the digital equivalent of opium. Why sit in a vegetative state and just mindlessly complete puzzles when you can add the adventure of a storyline.

If you are looking for extreme graphics, you must be reminded again that this is not the place for it. Not that it doesn't look good. Noting that it is on a next-gen console, it uses a retro style of RPG game storytelling with still 2D avatars that never change, spouting off lines of text in talk bubbles. The only thing that changes is the backdrop. Again, done specifically for style and feel, not for "wow!" factor.

The music can be a little repetitive, but not so much that you want to throw your controller at the screen. There are plenty of clangs and buzzes as you lock pieces into place for the combos you need to perform your attacks and cast your spells. Really, you are so engrossed, you don't notice the music until you specifically try and listen for it.


Gameplay:

In Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords, you take on the role and character of four different professions. There are two male and two female characters to choose as your avatar. Choose your profession between Druid, Knight, Warrior and Wizard. Create, develop and customize your hero as you gain levels and rewards as you go.

There are three game modes to play. There is the Single Player mode which is home to the storyline that boasts over 150 quests to embark on. Second is the instant action arena where you can simply battle opponents and level up without the messy storyline to get in the way.

Last there is the multiplayer. You have the opportunity to take on challengers via LIVE in ranked matches. There is a matchmaking system to pair you up with comparable skill levels. You can also play locally on your own machine. There is an option for system link, which I thought was weird to me because as the 360 goes more online you don't usually see people getting systems linked unless it is multiple players. Something more than two like HALO 3 obviously.

The entire key to the game is whether you choose to forgo the storyline with Quick Play, which would be a mistake, or take the journey, to do battle via the Puzzle. The Puzzle is not a hard concept. You match three of the same item to clear them and use their effect. For example, to attack, you connect three skulls and it will take life points away from your opponent. To perform attacks, you need mana. Different spells and attacks require different amounts of mana. You gain mana by connecting and completing chains of the color for each of the mana. For example, a chain of three reds give you three red mana in your total. The really awesome part of this is that this goes for gold and experience too. Complete chains of coins to sweeten the pot when you win. The same goes for your XP.


Difficulty:

Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords is not without its twists and turns. Like any RPG, you can't take on the final boss as a level 1. The mission system allows you to easily progress through, but it is important to choose your missions based upon your appropriate level. Even here, there are little XP grinding missions you can take to help even the distance in hit points between you and your opponents. One of the best features of the game, and especially for the casual player, is that there is no penalty for failure. Now, hardcore RPG players just went into full mental lockdown with that statement, as they collectively think that there should be a penalty for any failure. The fact is not everyone wants the "FULL" RPG game experience all the time. That is why it is casual.

Game Mechanics:

Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords is not just a solid puzzle-game, it has a solid yet simple RPG system as well. Usually with smaller games that try to combine two genres, you get what I like to refer to as "The Fly" effect. On the surface everything seems to be great, but soon into the game, things start to change and what seemed like a great idea at the time begins to horribly mutate into some chimera of evil. Either way, it is a three day bender to get the image of a naked Jeff Goldblum out of my head, but I digress. With Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords, I didn't get that at all. I know other games, and even huge games, have tried to incorporate simple puzzles into standard RPG play, with severe "The Fly" effects. One element or another intrudes on one another. I have my philosophies on why, but here we will leave it at the fact that they got it right on every level.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords was so addictive and engrossing that I literally didn't want to put the controller down to write this. With the XBOX LIVE format, I really hope to see add-ons and expansions soon and often. I am going to replay the game all of the way through with the different classes; it is just that kind of game that you are sorry to see end. Multiplayer is OK, but they got the storyline system right, and I just want more.

This is the game that every hardcore game-playing boyfriend has been whining about to bring their more casual game-playing counterparts into the larger gaming picture or even RPG world. Do not pass this opportunity up!


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Nintendo DS Horse Life Nintendo DS Cars: Mater-National

 
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