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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Activisions


Enormous game world, lots of quests. 

Downs:  Bad graphics and sound, unintuitive interface, first-person party-based engine is old news.

System Reqs: P233, 64 Mb RAM

screen4-01.jpg (7577 bytes)I hate to dismiss a game like Wizards and Warriors when its creators are so nice.  On the first page of the manual, D.M. Bradley – of Wizardry fame – directly addresses the player and says that if his game, “provides even a momentary taste of being alive in a world far different from our own, then the goal of this creation has been accomplished.”  A dedication page follows which asks the game be played in memory of several people all presumably close to Bradley.  And while it is evident that a lot of work and love has gone into Wizards and Warriors . . . well,  it just isn’t enough to elevate this lame offering. 

What you begin in W&W is a quest of the grandest sort.  A really EVIL dead pharaoh has come back from the dead and you must find the magic sword required to smite him.  That’s it.  While RPG’s always contain a bit of hokum, the escape of easy moral distinctions, clearly defined villains, and effective actions, the genre can go too far. And Wizards and Warriors does. For example, in its very long opening sequence, it enacts an elaborate Call to Adventure: EVIL is on the loose, GOOD must meet and, of course, defeat it.  I could respect this impulse if it wasn’t so silly and didn’t treat me like I’ve got the ethical compass of a toddler.  Entering fantasy worlds is grand.  Adventure is great.  But I would prefer stories which are at least a little sophisticated, with a at least a few gray areas. 

screen8-01.jpg (8743 bytes)When you start W&W, you create a party of up to six, well, wizards and warriors.  The usual RPG suspect races are there (elves, gnomes, humans) as well as some interesting new additions.   Lizzrods are big, tough lizardmen.  Oomphaz are big, spiritual elephant-looking guys who are well suited to the role of wizard or preist.  Whiskahs look like cats and Ratlings are . . .  rats.  Your starting six can be any combination of warriors, rouges, wizards and priest, and these characters can, with experience, become specialized classes such as ninjas, bards, or samurai.  Additionally, there are a large number of traits such as vampirism and quick spell casting to further enhance customization.  Wizards and Warrior's role-playing elements are excellent and ought to lead to fine play, but some unfortunate game design decisons ensure it doesn't. 

Your control your party through a first person perspective and, right here, I would like to issue a call of my own to all game producers: Do Not Make Party-Based Games With a First Person Perspective.  Please.  Part of the joy of running an RPG party is the use of space and the tactics involved in moving party members to gain advantages on your enemies.  The first person view eliminates many of  the possibilities of party dynamics, and leaves me imagining my party as this tight knot of people who all act as one character, facing the same direction, spitting and stepping in unhappy unison.  Though this technique has been used in the past (especially the Might and Magic series) because of technological limitations those limitations have been surpassed.  Please don’t do this anymore.  It makes for weak games.

screen10-01.jpg (8136 bytes)It doesn't help any that the game's interface itself is difficult and unintuitive.   Everything is mouse driven, and this makes playing difficult since most of the screen is taken up with command buttons and advanced character functions are buried in a maze of menus.  With almost no keyboard shortcuts, I found myself getting frustrated fast.  Fortunately, the game runs in real and stop time, so you can pause the game in the middle of a fight and struggle through the commands hierarchy to find the item/action you need. 

W&W’s graphics aren’t very impressive, either. They're often over-pixilated, and support for different video cards seems spotty.  Couple this with dangerously bad sound, and I wanted to quit playing.   Non Player Character monologues go on forever with terrible voice acting.  The sound track was equally dismal.  It’s taken four years to make W&W and its age shows.  It's difficult to recommend a game with sub-par visuals  when Quake-style beauty is possible. 

screen3-01.jpg (8574 bytes)Where W&W excels is in the size of the world and the number of available quests.  Individual areas are always large and diverse.  Characters can join various guilds and complete quests  which grant them specialist classes.  There are also lots of side quests--Wizards and Warriors will always keep you busy.  While many of the quests are Fed-Ex types, in which you merely deliver items, they still kept my attention and provided impetus for exploration. 

Wizards and Warriors suffers from poor structural implementation with a useless perspective and difficult interface as well as a silly storyline, bad graphics, and sorry sound.  Its strengths – cool characters and a big world – are buried beneath that load.   This could have been a good game.  It’s got a solid RPG core, but just doesn’t pay off when it’s time to actually play.  If you want a good first person RPG style game, play Deus Ex or System Shock 2.  If you want to play a good party-based RPG, play Baldur’s Gate II.   No matter how well intentioned the creators, I can't recommend Wizards and Warriors.

--Matt Blackburn