Preview By: | Posted: 01/07/2000
Okay, first thing I HAVE to mention is that this preview is based solely on the recently released multiplayer-only closed beta test and is therefore based on code uncompleted in its development. I am lucky enough to be a part of this beta test, and have been allowed to write this article to give you some idea of the game and what you can expect from the full release.
So lets get it on - you control a character, from a third person view point, around an arena; the aim being to destroy your opponents with a choice of ten attacks or talent cards (derived from eight powerful Totems: Fire, Sun, Illusion, Science, Demonology, Death, Storm, and Truth). Using these talents drains your mana and when hit drains health points from your opponent. These stats are viewed as filled crystal balls, red for health and blue for mana (as in Diablo).
You choose these 'talents' from a selection before the battle begins and, depending on how the server is set up, have a ten free spots to choose a talent (the ones you choose to fight with is you deck). Of course these talents vary greatly in what they do and how much damage and mana they drain. There are talents that allow you to fly on air, speed you up dramatically or create a force field. For example the 'Sand Pit' creates a large pool of quick sand to slow down your opponents. Your enemy then being stuck is easy target for the higher-powered attacks such as 'Demonic Rift' to drain their hit points. The result is a large choice of talents with which you can create your own winning combos to zZap your opponents hit points. All the while keeping a beady eye on your mana and health levels. Running out of mana results in your character going very strange and moving very slowly and running out of health means you die (surprisingly enough), your killer gets a frag and you restart. Littered through the level, to aid both attacker and the attackee are mana and health power ups which add to the strategy. I.e. As soon as you see someone scurrying for the powerups you know exactly where to cast that Star Shower :) Also I must add that every character is equipped with a rather weak handgun just in case you're low on mana.
In this beta you are given a choice of four different models to play as: Cain, Priscilla Divine, Joan Aiken and Abel and two arenas to play in: Pyramid and Mystic. One interesting tactic on the Mystic level, which is played on wooden walkways above lava streams, is to use the 'Psionic Puch' talent to push your enemies off the walkways in the lava. As for graphics the game certainly does look the part, and the effects for each talent are so varied and stylish you find yourself using talents just to see the effects!
I hope that gives you some idea of the game, but I can say little else due its current development stage. But I can safely say this game is going to be good. This multiplayer only limited beta is already so addictive - I am constantly thinking up new combos to try out. Lets just say a lot of time has been lost to this game!
So what can we expect from the full game? Well its appears to be getting better. The 'talent' cards have been developed in such a way that extra talents can be collected, via the Internet, and added all the time. The effects and damage will be created in real time (read no extra patches). Just imagine letting a rare attack rip which no one else will have seen. That will make them sit up in front of their monitors! Oh dear .. looks like its going to be another Pokemon trading card frenzy style affair. But the developers add that these attacks will be balanced against each other, there is not going to be a 'rocket launcher only' situation.
But that is not all. There is still the single player aspect still in development. They promise a strong story-based, action/adventure-style single player game, offering twenty-one immersive levels and over forty hours of gameplay, with ~4000 lines of spoken text. Also there will be eighty talents shipping with the game to get you started, thirteen battle arenas to choose from and eight different characters to play as. And too top it all off (??) the voice of Ice-T will be used for the main char - Agent Cain.
Well there isn't much more I can say........