“Hearing rumors of great portals leading to powerful planar gems, eager adventurers have come to the Castle Baele in search of fame and fortune…only to find Baele’s Castle destroyed. High above its ruins, a new and mysterious castle floats, as if magically suspended in the sky…”
Is this a scene from a movie? No, it’s the opening scene of the Xbox exclusive Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes, an action RPG.
Hunter the Reckoning, Baldur’s Gate:
Dark Alliance, Gauntlet: Dark Legends; they all have sought the famed first place prize in the action RPG category. To date, there seems to have been a nice head to head battle between Hunter and Baldur’s Gate. That is, of course, until Atari decided to introduce its own slash and hack thriller, Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes. If you’re a fan of the genre, you won’t have much trouble diving into this game and finding the fun factor. You’ll again have four characters at your disposal, to rid the world of the ultimate evil or just melee your way around until the end. It’s an Xbox exclusive, so if it doesn’t compete with the others, then all Xbox owners are to blame. Is it worth it? Grab your goblets and let’s find out.
Dungeons & Dragons:
Heroes (D&D) uses the same top view camera angle we’ve come to love in this type of game. It also allows you to zoom in on the action if need be. The meat and potatoes of this game is, of course, the ability to grab three of your friends and play through the game without a split-screen view hindering your actions. You can choose between a Wizard, Cleric, Rogue and the fan favorite, Fighter. Once entering the game, you’ll be allowed to rename your character, which adds a touch of uniqueness not seen in the other action RPG offerings so far. You should be well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each character, as the name would imply for each character. Fighters will be better at melee attacks than will your Wizards, but on the other hand Wizards will offer more in the magical department than Fighters. There are only seven environments in which you’ll roam, so the action may be fast and furious. Then the action will be over for veterans. This shouldn’t matter though as every action RPG I can remember had a short duration. Something about the control scheme in D&D was a bit unexpected on my part. I expected to simply hit the face buttons repeatedly, with no real thought, and finish the game in no time. Behold, however, Atari decided to take the control scheme and separate it from its predecessors by allowing you more control over the action. By this I mean that there is some customizing allowed. Instead of a fierce button masher, this game has introduced an attack menu of sorts. If you’re in a heated battle and you want to lie down the magic or some form of attack, simply press/hold the left trigger.
This will slow down the action across the entire screen, allowing you to navigate through a small menu. This is where you figure out how exactly you’re going to lay waste to the enemies around you. There are dozens of attacks and finishing moves that Atari has treated you to. This is by far the biggest surprise of the game. It adds a bit of strategy, while increasing the fun and difficulty level.