Nox plays more like an action game following RPG elements, than a clear-cut RPG, this is at least what Westwood tells us. I would rather say that this is an RPG with action elements. Picture any RPG you have played before, and speed it up a few times. This game to me is an RPG on steroids. It is almost but impossible not to think about Diablo when you play this game, and no matter what Westwood has been telling us, this was a battle they lost.
This game does have many good features that does separate it from any other RPG on the market, but my theory is that if one company has already made an almost perfect game, such as in the case of Diablo, why try changing it, but instead just try to make it better. Nox is a 3/4 overhead viewed game, and when playing in-depth, any gamer can tell just how much Westwood tried to put this game in a category of its own. The two major differences this game has is its mood and emotion in general, and just how much work was put into making this game an online hit.
Nox has a much lighter, almost happier mood then any other RPG I've seen. Instead of fighting creatures in dark caves throughout the whole game (which is a difficult task to avoid), gamers assume the role of a southern almost hick character who is dragged into the world of Nox by, shall I say, "a spell gone wrong". In this game, you are given certain objectives and tasks which do not always involve the conventional "slaying of rats in a cave", but are fun, thought-out tasks, which greatly boosts the fun factor of the game. Online, there are MANY different types of games that Nox splits into, and Westwood has made this point very clear.
There was some attempt at a storyline in this game; I cannot decide weather this was a successful attempt, or just a method of filling up space on the CD, but one thing I am sure, you are going to want to follow the storyline just so you can understand all of the movies. The world of Nox is about a magical land which has been under attack by Necromancers, and through a magical spell, your character gets teleported to Nox, and you find yourself fighting for survival. Your character is fully specific in terms of how, you want him to look, weather you want him to be a warrior, mage or Conjurers. One thing that disappointed me in this game was lack of being able to really control your attributes, but I guess this was one of those things that makes you think this game more of an action game.
This game does not use graphics to its full potential, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The animated sequences in this game are many, with rich colors, sounds and animations. In the game, however, the case is not the same. The details are all there, but something graphics wise is missing. This lack of visualized stimulation does not take away from the gameplay, and almost seems to balance itself out the more you play. The character models can use some improvement, but this adds the classic RPG element of what a character is supposed to look like in the game. More work was put into the spells, and weapons, and watching the Mage's magic missiles sure does give you a visual rush. This combination of visuals creates an almost 'medieval' game, which takes place in modern times.
The sound in particular is something which makes this game stand out from all others. Every spell, swing of a weapon, creature, or enemy in general, has their own specific sound scheme, giving the game a very personal feeling. One feature that also stands out, is that all text that players has been recorded, and all of the characters voices fit their roles. This is particularly effective for the gamer who has been playing so many hours that their vision blurs, and are unable to actually comprehend what the text is talking about. The is hardly any background music, except for times when it is necessary to give the game a dramatically outlook, and I personally think with the bad history video games and music have had, why bother concentrating at all on music.
This game is the rare one I've seen where both single and multiplayer are fun. In single player, u are put up against creatures of Nox and have to complete certain missions. Multiplayer, however, is something which is a quite amazing experience. Multiplayer is played on the prominent WESTWOOD ONLINE servers, and includes many new modes never seen before in RPG's. These modes of gameplay include: Arena, King of the Realm, Elimination, Capture the Flag, and NOX ball.
Each character has Health (the amount of damage that can be taken before death), Strength (which governs which weapons are equipable, and the power of their attacks), Speed (which controls how quickly a character can move and attack) and Mana (which affects the Conjurer's and Wizard's spellcasting; the Warrior does not have this attribute).
At one time, Nox had two distinct cultures: the humans of the south lands and the necromancers of the north. These two cultures had existed in an uneasy peace for hundreds of years until the necromancers invaded the south land. Their ultimate goal: conquest and genocide. The humans of the south rallied and, at considerable loss of life, drove back the necromancers. The southerners knew it was only a matter of time until the battle mages of the north would muster a larger force and try again. For the necromancers had unlocked the power to reanimate the dead.
The southern people constructed the Staff of Oblivion, a weapon which would literally seal the souls of the fallen forever, preventing their return. The great wizard, Jandor, led an army against the North, killing and capturing their souls. The north quickly fell and its prized capitol was frozen over by a powerful curse. It would forever be known as the Land of the Dead, its real name stricken from all writings. Jandor remained to kill any survivors and vanquish the evil seed from Nox.
The task became more difficult as the refugees became more innocent. In a final act of guilt, Jandor spared a baby girl. He carried her to Grok Torr, a settlement of Ogres, and paid them to look after her. The souls of the rest of the necromancers were sealed in an Orb and with the combined efforts of Nox' greatest mages it was banished to another time/space.
The southern people were scarred by the power of what magic had wrought on their land. They split into factions: warriors who eschewed magic, wizards who blended magic and technology, and conjurers who only practiced "natural" magic. Hecubah, the child that Jandor spared, eventually discovered her roots and developed a vengeful loathing. She went to the Land of the Dead and devised a way to return the souls of her people to Nox. This time they would vanquish the south once and for all.
You are the 20th century savior of Nox - summoned to the land in a cosmic accident. Being from Earth, you are the only living being on Nox that may touch a magic Orb in the possession of the wicked-evil queen of the undead - Hecubah. You must find this Orb and harness its power in order to construct the staff of oblivion and defeat Hecubah.
Buy this game. A lot of hard work and effort was put into it by Westwood, and for a company that always seems to be shadowing its competitors, it took a lot of risk to put this title out, and it was to their success. Westwood compared this game the many elements of Wizards Magic: The Gathering card game, and for any die-hard RPG fan, this would be a great addition to their collection, not only for fun, but also to bring them up to date to the new genre of RPG's, with Westwood, to a certain extent, leading this market.
It is too early to see whether this will be a short-term fad for Westwood (like so many of it's games have been), or a game that has little potential of surviving the onslaught of competition it will be seeing the near years to come.