|a game by||Raven Software|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 3 reviews|
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Harkening back to the days of Gauntlet, Mage-slayer brings that classic top-down perspective to the PlayStation, along with some swords-n-sorcery mayhem that might just shape up into one addictive fight. Charged with locating five relics that are crucial to defeating the vile Lore Thane, players wade through 30 levels jammed with enemies to slaughter and puzzles to solve. Gamers assume the role of a warlock, an inquisitor, an arch-demon, or an earthlord; each character has four attacks, a special ability, and ratings in speed, health, and toughness.
Mageslayer also introduces a quasi-RPG flair as accomplishments like victories in battle or unearthing treasure earn experience points. When characters accumulate enough points to reach a new level, they score a new attack.
If Diablo didn't fulfill your need for swords and sorcery action, MageSlayer just might do the trick. This top-down fantasy-action game boasts more than 30 levels, five unique 3D environmerits, Quake-style multiplayer options (head-to-head, cooperative teamplay, and Capture the Flag), vicious enemies, and spells and magic. The perspective may be disconcerting to some, but fans of old-school fantasy games like Gauntlet will revel in both the overhead view and the speedy switch between viewing angles.
Players can choose between four distinct characters-- Warlock, Arch-Demon, Inquisitor, and Earthlord--to search for five lost relics needed to overthrow the evil LoreThane. If this game overcomes its current limitations, such as the annoying lack of a save-game feature and the unchangeable command configuration, look for it to become a modern-day fantasy-action classic.
A great tumult filled the earth in ages past. The mages of the world, hell-bent on power and destruction, enslaved the people of the world to do their evil bidding. But beneath the tyranny and slavery, the people of the world plotted for their freedom and the demise of the mages. Through the use of a special material -- a stone that had fallen from the heavens -- special beings from the five clans were imbued with magical powers. These beings became known as the Mageslayers. A portion of the stone was fashioned into a sentient being called the Oracle, an object of great wisdom, all-knowing and all-seeing. The Oracle divined the weakness of the mages. They also fashioned 5 artifacts of power made from the same materials.
During the planning of the great overthrow, the mages targeted the demise of what they deemed the weakest of the clans -- the clan of knowledge. But perception was not with them, as the clan of knowledge was the strongest of the clans. The clan of knowledge fought valiantly, killing many of the mage legions before its inevitable demise. Only one person survived the onslaught of the mages: Lorethane, the Mageslayer, who disappeared thereafter into a secret place. The powers that be smiled upon the remaining four clans, and they were victorious. Peace settled on the lands for a time. Lorethane's presence in the world grew stronger and his malice was so strong that even the Mageslayers knew that he plotted evil against the world. The Mageslayer of Knowledge was angry at the demise of his tribe. He blamed the four surviving clans. For a millennium, he learned the secrets of the mages and gathered the five artifacts. Using the power of the artifacts, he created legions of evil among the lands.
The four clans saw that Lorethane was a greater threat than the mages had ever been, and gathered together their four champions to thwart his plans and bring peace to the lands yet again. Thus begins the tale of Mageslayer...
Mageslayer is an action game with roleplaying accents and uses a top-down 3D view, best described as the player staring down upon the world -- much like if you were looking down at a street from a tall building. The player can be one of four characters: the warlock, the inquisitor, the dwarf or the arch-demon. Each one represents a certain clan, with abilities and strengths of varying levels. Conventional weapons are scarce in Mageslayer, and the main weapons of choice are magical in nature. Each character can have up to three spells, a special attack and a melee attack for close combat. As your "Mageslayer" progresses through each "stage," he or she gathers artifacts. When the artifact is returned to the Oracle in the main level, he, she or it is granted a spell. The first levels of spells tend to be weak, but with each artifact captured comes stronger and more devastating power. Spells require mana. As in many traditional roleplaying games such as Square's wonderful title Secret of Mana, mana can be obtained by finding moon and starstones.
Beyond magic spells, Mageslayer offers various powerups, items and monsters relating to the particular stage you are in. Items such as dynamite and bouncy bombs are available at many points in the game, and provide a relief from mana-using spells. Although it uses the same engine as Take No Prisoners, the comparison ends there. Read on to see why.
Mageslayer's top-down view takes some getting used to, and unlike Take No Prisoners it only provides two modes of the same view -- zoomed and non-zoomed. This is one of the greatest weaknesses of the game and takes a lot of getting used to. One improvement that helps this view immensely is the 3Dfx mode (this mode can also utilize other graphics acceleration cards that use Direct3D). If you don't have a 3D card, you are going to get tired of the view in Mageslayer rather quickly, due to how unclear it looks. Without 3D acceleration the game looks dull, and the character you play lacks clarity. The best way to view the game without an accelerator card is zoomed in.
The second complaint I have about Mageslayer is its lack of support for DirectX-enabled joysticks. I tried various gamepads with no luck, and while playing with the keyboard is acceptable, the gameplay would have been a bit more fluid had I been able to use one of the many gamepads I tried.
So is Mageslayer all bad? Not at all. There are some neat innovations that make it very playable, lots of options for multiplayer games, including a Capture-the-Flag mode called "Capture the Relic," teamplay, cooperative mode and plenty of powerups and items to make it interesting.
One of the best things about this game are the levels. There are so many things that can happen to your character due to machinery (think of an industrial accident), traps, items that rotate or flip completely over, teleporters, cannons or moving walls and doors that can squish you. Although Mageslayer is an action game in the spirit of Gauntlet (especially in cooperative mode), it requires a lot of thought and luck to survive. Level effects such as colored lighting make Mageslayer feel "real." My biggest problem was that I just couldn't get the feeling of being "in" the game. I felt detached from it, much like one feels like when playing a strategy game. I was in more of the position of being a general controlling a soldier rather than being the soldier controlling his own path.
One final note about the interface: Like Quake and Take No Prisoners, Mageslayer provides a "console" window where you can type "impulse" commands, bind keyboard keys, and do various in-game tweaking, demo recording and changing of the current map being played, just to name a few functions. This makes setting up your favorite keys an easy task if you know the proper syntax. Mageslayer, unlike Take No Prisoners, has several map-making tools available on the Internet.
Graphics and Design
The graphics are "okay" in Mageslayer if you are playing the non-accelerated software version. Things aren't as easy to see in this mode, however. While I was playing the software version of the game, I found it difficult to distinguish between creatures and items. The best view in this mode, as stated earlier, is a full zoom (which is done by hitting z) In 3Dfx @ 640x480 in 16-bit color (we tested 3Dfx Voodoo), Mageslayer looks awesome! It is highly recommended that you play this game in this mode. Objects, monsters, the character representation, textures, lighting, explosion sprites, etc. are distinguishable in this mode.
The sound and music in Mageslayer are excellent. The music in particular is top notch, and like Take No Prisoners, it makes for great tunes to use while playing other games -- such as Quake. The sound effects, such as the clink of steel or the thunderous sound of the dwarf whacking his magical hammer on the ground, are great ... metal clashes with crispness and cannons boom with clarity.
Documentation and Setup
The documentation is kind of vague and seems to have been rushed. The story itself was probably written after the game was designed -- sort of as an afterthought, as Mageslayer was the first test of Raven Software's Vampire game engine. Furthermore, the discussion of objects, goals, items and monsters could have been a lot more in-depth.
Mageslayer sets up like a breeze, and offers two types of installation: minimum (off the CD) or maximum (off the hard drive), one requiring the CD to play and one that installs the files to the hard drive for faster access time. The only major thing that might happen during installation is that Mageslayer might set up DirectX 5, which is painless.
Required: Pentium 90, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95, 4X CD-ROM drive, 70 MB hard drive space, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound card, SVGA graphics with 1 MB video RAM
Recommended: Pentium 133, 32 MB RAM, 100 MB HD space, 6X CD-ROM drive, SVGA graphics, 3Dfx card or D3D compatible graphics accelerator card, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound card, 4 button 2 axis gamepad.
Unless you own a brand name controller and a 3Dfx or D3D-capable graphics accelerator card, stay away from this game. More to the point, if you don't enjoy games that use magic more than might, you probably will get bored with this game quickly. Mageslayer's controls were probably the biggest problem I encountered, as it didn't cooperate nicely with DirectX. Overall, a good game with some interesting game play elements worth buying if you really liked Take No Prisoners but want to try something with a hint of roleplaying and magic.