Die By the Sword

a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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The bloody action/adventure Die By The Sword has everything medieval gamers could want: ores, kobolds, floating swords, pendulums, puzzles, pretty maidens--plus, uh, some problems they could probably do without.

When Ores Attack

If you thought Lara Croft just didn't do enough in Tomb Raider, Die By The Sword offers more interaction--and far more bloodshed. As Enric, you'll have to hack-and-slash your way through eight levels of puzzles and traps, slaughtering the ogres, skeletons, and other unsavory enemies that get between you and your kidnapped love, Maya. If you score a good hit on an enemy's arm, it falls off--at which point you can pick it up and beat its original owner to death with it. Even after they're dead, you can divide them into tiny chunks. Mmm...beefy.

The graphics look nice for the most part, but textures sometimes look stretched on tunnel walls, while the heavily compressed cinemas border on unwatchable. And although the collision detection is dead-on for combat, your sword pokes through walls as if they weren't there. Fortunately, the heroic music and entertaining comments sound great.

The Kindest Cut

The real star of the game, however, is VSIM (Virtual Simulation), the unique control system that lets you realistically swing a sword with a mouse, keyboard, or force-feedback joystick. With your every blow, the game factors in power, speed, direction, angle, and resistance. This system is brilliant and worth every bit of its learning curve. The move editor lets you create and save your favorite attacks, too, so they're available during the game's gladiator-style mutliplayer arena combats--which rock on a local network, but generate gripes from Internet and modem players. With Sword's single-player quest so short, Tantrum desperately needs to solve these problems with a patch.

Dismembers Only

Even with such serious shortcomings, Die By The Sword makes the cut. VSIM is an exciting addition to the stagnant, neglected area of game control, and you'll find the overall experience worth putting up with the game's deficiencies. The stage has been set for a bloody good sequel.

ProTips

  • Slice diagonally with your sword to sever your opponent's limbs. If they're armless, they're harmless!
  • Skeletons are literally weak ih the knees. Attack low.

Download Die By the Sword

PC Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Interplay knows what medieval games should be about--big swords that turn nasty monsters into chunks of fresh beef. Die by the Sword fills that order quite well within a Tomb Raider-style quest format. The game's VSIM technology enables you to control the swing of your sword with a wave of your mouse, creating lifelike human movements on the fly without motion capturing. As a result,players will be able to invent their own moves and attacks in real time, then save 'em and trade 'em with others--or try them out against four other opponents in the multiplayer arena. VSIM takes some practice, but anyone looking for more complete control over their onscreen characters will find it a revolutionary innovation.

Overview

Have you ever wanted to know how it feels to just lop off someone’s arms, legs or head? Are you sick of plain old hack n’ slash games that seem mundane and repetitive? If you are, Interplay has got the game for you. It’s called Die by the Sword and it’s a very unique and detailed experience dealing with the ancient art of close combat with a sizeable sword. This game has some very strong arcade elements, but goes quite a bit farther than that. It also has some very strong adventure/role playing qualities but falls short of a real adventure game. So…what the heck is this Die by the Sword, anyway? I’ll tell you in one sentence. It is the baddest, most painful, meticulous rendition of raw swordfighting you will find on a computer screen at this point in time. If you can stand the sight of fresh entrails and severed limbs … read on.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Die By the Sword (DBTS) puts you in control of a bad to the bone warrior wielding one very long sword with the focus of the game on the actual sword fighting. Did I mention that the swordplay in this game was detailed? Yes, you can actually employ the VISM technology to take full control of your sword with the mouse and swing however and wherever you want. You can also employ the move editor to create your own special attacks and parries. It is really quite easy to use and you can create limitless body movements and motions unique to your character. This feature greatly enhances multiplayer battles with your friends as you can regularly employ your new fab moves on their sorry gullets. I also liked the fact that if you didn’t want to use the full VISM technology, you could use the gamepad or joystick and play in arcade mode where each button could be mapped to a specific swing or jump or something, but of course you lose that total VISM control.

The single-player game revolves around a plot where your girlfriend has been captured and dragged away deep into a treacherous dungeon in the nearby woods. Sounds like a simple overused storyline … well, it is, but as I said DBTS focuses on the actual fighting. You fight your way through various levels to eventually save the day. I will say that the levels are very well-designed and fun to play as there are many clever traps and just plain fun stuff you get to do to move on. The game definitely focuses on quality of battles not quantity. On some levels there are only two or three monsters to kill at various points, but remember each battle is more evenly weighted … what I mean is you won’t go mowing through 10 or 20 orcs in five minutes and come out with most of your health left. In fact, one orc is a challenge and I don’t remember fighting more than three enemies at any one time. DBTS is a great alternative to those massive hack n’ slash games, as it offers more skill and strategy than any sword fighting game to date.

I loved the physical model and the blood and guts and severed limbs. You could literally cut up a monster at every joint. If you cut off his right leg at the knee, he would hop after you on the other leg; cut off a foot and he would limp slightly. The physical model is incredible and has to be seen to be appreciated. Sometimes a monster would start to run towards me and just trip and fall on a rock or something, only to get up and continue his pursuit. Don’t forget—as bad as your character is, you are also prone to these same laws of physics, and yes, the baddies can hack you limb from limb too.

The one thing I believe they could have improved on is the camera angles, as they seem to "float" around your character and the battle, trying to get the best view. Sometimes it gets really disorienting and it becomes difficult to see which way you are facing, etc. I did eventually get used to the views and overall they don’t ruin the game, but it is definitely an area to be improved upon.

Multiplayer

There is no cooperative mode, so that’s a little disappointing, but deathmatch over a LAN is very entertaining -- easy to set up and very smooth. Now I have heard some horror stories about _DBTS _multiplayer, so understand that I only speak from personal experience.

Graphics

If you have a 3Dfx card, you will be very impressed with the graphics in DBTS. The dungeons and arenas are well done, and are comparable to (and I think even better than) those in Quake. The blood and guts are great and the animations are fabulous. I do believe DBTS is a step up from most first-person shooters as well … okay, it’s not Unreal, but it sure beats the heck out of Tomb Raider. All the characters are done in true 3D which adds greatly to the realism and feel of actually being there. If you do not have a 3Dfx card, the game will run in software mode … but you may be a little disappointed. Time to upgrade.

Audio

Another very impressive feature is the awesome audio of DBTS. When you connect with an enemy, you get a satisfying "WHACK!", a juicy, bone-crunching sound along with the appropriate limb flying off. The timing and quality of the sound effects is awesome; I actually winced in pain many times while hacking or getting hacked. Background sounds and ambient noises are also done well and add to the atmosphere. I save the best for last, and that is the voices. Usually I get bored of characters saying stuff all the time … it gets repetitive and seems senseless. I must say that in DBTS it was so much fun to listen to my character mock the enemy with his hilarious Scottish accent. What a riot! "I’ll cleave your bloody head off!"

System Requirements

P-100, 16 MB RAM, 130 MB hard drive space, CD-ROM drive, SVGA 640x480 (Local Bus or PCI required), 100% SoundBlaster compatible sound card

Documentation

Very straightforward, no problems. The manual was thin, but no matter, I forgot the manual the minute I had a rabid Orc swinging at my noggin.

Bottom Line

DBTS breaks new ground with a game that goes beyond the norm with detail and playability. Never before has sword-fighting come to life on the PC quite like this. I must say the potential for growth with this engine and design are very promising. I couldn’t help but think of how awesome a full blown cooperative role-playing game with different weapons and classes would be like with this game engine. While DBTS succeeds in being a great, detailed action game, it lacks depth and also could improve on some control and viewing issues. But I know it is what it is and the designers did not mean for it to be more … but I hope I gave someone (are you listening, Interplay?) a few ideas for a sequel. If you are at all interested in a great, gory, detailed action game, this is it. I give DBTS 88 out of 100, and remember, "Ya hit like a Kobold!"

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