Battlespire: An Elder Scrolls Legend Review

After the impressive successes of the two previous titles in Bethesda Softwork’s highly acclaimed RPG series set in the epic world of Tamriel (The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall), the failure of Battlespire to build upon that success is baffling and disappointing. Battlespire is the beginning of a new Legend series that was touted to draw upon and enhance the world of Tamriel by focusing on better graphics, shorter gameplay and a distinct endgame purpose, unlike the earlier open-ended sagas. Many of the things which made the previous titles unique and enjoyable are still here: a fully customizable character generation feature, the choice of a full screen first person perspective or one with an unobtrusive command bar, hack and slash combat mode using mouse movement to direct your weapon and control of inventory and magic spells through the use of hotkeys (F1 thru F8). The environment is mostly indoors with the occasional excursion outside but you’ll spend most of your time trolling through dungeons doing battle with the evil minions who have taken control of the training facility, Battlespire.

The game’s manual is informative regarding setting up and creating your character’s race, class, skills, attributes and appearance. It provides adequate data in terms of spells, weapons, equipment, magic items and character advantages and disadvantages. But the designers of Battlespire have gone out of their way to insure no information was provided on exactly “how” to go about your quest. The floating citadel of Battlespire is supported by magical anchors over which you must learn control and the use of the Daedric alphabet-based ward sigils (though defined in the manual) is left to you to figure out. But the biggest drawback to Battlespire is to be found in the uninspired and sluggish performance of the game itself. Not only did Bethesda renege on its promises of 3Dfx support (with references in the manual which don’t apply to the finished product) but the Xngine™ engine with newly added SVGA graphics (even with graphics set at low-res, with an option for hi-res) is choppy, at times slow and frustrating (especially in battle mode) and reintroduces the player to old problems such as characters getting stuck and even creatures walking through walls and objects on occasion.

Even with these considerable shortcomings,Battlespire will keep the intrepid RPGer occupied for a while. The premise of the storyline is good and it does perpetuate the Tamriel experience. With the introduction of multiplayer options over the internet, Battlespire does offer something the earlier TES titles didn’t: the ability to take your character ‘on the road’ and bash heads with others of like ilk with many options: team versus computer, team versus team, deathmatch or Capture the Flag. The setup over the ‘net is quite easy and you can quickly get immersed in multiplayer mayhem. All in all, Battlespire falls short of what it could have been mainly because of outdated development techniques but the basis for a grand series remains.

Graphics

Very disappointing. No 3Dfx support as originally advertised. Choppy, slow moving interface at times. High level of pixelation on “up close” scenes (although adequate on views from a distance).

Sound

Some very good voice acting and fairly extensive conversation gambits create viable atmosphere. The conversations with NPC’s is actually one of the highlights of the game. At times character movements slow down (or stop) when music is accessed off the CD-ROM.

Enjoyment

The concept of tighter gameplay, better graphics and multiplayer possibilities is great; however, execution of those worthy goals fall short. Overcoming the shortcomings of the game (inexplicably Bethesda didn’t even make use of DirectX5.0 or Windows 95) detract from being able to fully enjoy this one.

Replay Value

The only replay value associated with Battlespire would stem from multiplayer internet mode. The game itself, once completed, would not leave much to redo.

Documentation

Fairly informative manual but leaves player faced with learning a great deal about the Battlespire world by trial and error. Good marks for details regarding “things” in the game; just not too helpful on the “how”.

Worms 2 (1997)

Worms 2 is an artillery strategy game developed by Team17 as part of the Worms series. The game was released in 1997. The player controls a team of up to eight worms in combat against opposing teams.

The game features the same premise as the original game, and involves controlling an army of worms and using a collection of eclectic weaponry such as bazookas, dynamite, grenades, cluster bombs, homing missiles, banana bombs and the infamous holy hand grenade. These are among the basic weapons used to eliminate the opposing team(s) of worms. It features a completely new graphics system, going for a cartoon style, which has remained for the rest of the series. 

Gameplay:
Game play is turn-based, with each team moving in sequence (which is determined randomly) across two-dimensional terrain. During a single turn, a team can only move one of its worms. Worms can crawl and jump, as well as (when the appropriate items are available) swing by ninja-rope, parachute, teleport, and bungee. The objective of a traditional match or campaign mission is to defeat all opposing teams by killing their worms.

Each worm begins the round with a specific amount of health (which is predefined by the chosen game options or by scripting in campaign levels, with 100 being the default). When hit with a weapon, the worm will lose health depending on the power of the weapon and the directness of the hit. A worm can be killed either by having its health reduced to zero or being knocked into the water around and below the level.

Worms 2 was the first game in the Worms series to feature completely integrated local and online TCP/IP multiplayer in addition to the regular hotseat mode, which allows up to 6 players to compete. Online play is disabled in the GOG.com digital release of the game.

WWF: In Your House Review

When this game came out it was the greatest wrestling game for PC. People complaining about the game are people who did not play it when it came out and got spoiled by graphics later down the road. Alof of people refer to the Attitude era wrestlers and wonder why their not in the game? well its because the Attitude era did not kick off until 97′, thus the game came out in 96′ and was actually developed in 95′. Wrestling was the greatest thing before the attitude era, and this game shows what it was all about. Great gameplay, old wrestlers who do not wrestle anymore,GREAT commentary which was actually was my personal favorite feature of the game in 96′ and still is. I would NOT recommend this game to kids who grew up wathcing wrestling the past 12-15 years because they will not know who 99% of the wrestlers are. Old school wrestling fans like myself consider this game a gem and any wrestling fan from the early 90’s can tell you it still is a great game.

Verdict: 80/100

NHL Powerplay Overview

Sanctioned by both the NHL and the NHLPA, NHL Powerplay ’96 for the PlayStation features all the players and teams from the National Hockey League’s ’95-’96 season. There are three modes of play: Exhibition, Season, Playoff, and World Tourney. The Exhibition mode allows you or you and up to four friends to play a customized single-game matchup, using any of the available teams.

The Season mode gives you the chance to play an entire 82 game NHL season, including the NHL Playoffs, and Stanley Cup Championship. This includes overtime games, ties, and player injuries. The Playoff mode enables you to bypass the regular season grind and head straight for post season play. The World Tourney mode is similar to the Olympics in that players play for the country in which they were born. Options in this game that hockey fans will be familiar with include penalties, offsides, two line passes, icing, player substitutions, and face-offs. As player-coach, you will be called on to decide your team’s tactical strategies for each game.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain Review

Crystal Dynamics’s Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is a superb action/role-playing adventure. Originally released for the PlayStation, it’s got all the classic elements that make for a good adventure and is, essentially, the same game as its console counterpart.

In Blood Omen, you play Kain, a bloodthirsty vampire resurrected to serve his dark lord and seek revenge on his murderers, displayed through gorgeous full motion video sequences. The story is so good and the movies so well done that it’s easy for players to immerse themselves in Kain’s world. The voice acting is superb and the script phenomenal — extremely smart. Unlike most games, Blood Omen requires players to think about what is said and what is happening, rather than having the story spoon-fed word-by-word.

The game takes place in the fictitious world of Nosgoth, a huge world, filled with all kinds of items, spells, weapons, and secrets. While the outdoor graphics aren’t earth shattering (they’re top-down 2D and mostly adequate), the dark crypts and castles feature realistic lighting. This Windows 95 version features high-resolution graphics that are cleaner than the PlayStation version, with monsters and people nicely detailed and well animated.

Blood Omen requires a keen sense of observation to find things, so expect to do a great deal of exploring. While exploring, Kain encounters many different enemies including demons, bats and even townsfolk. Townsfolk (humans) are especially important as Kain needs to feed on their blood. If you do not get enough blood, Kain’s life force will drain and he will perish.

Not only is this game action-packed and gory, but there is also plenty of puzzle solving. Some puzzles are basic, push-the-stone-over-the-switch-so-the-door-will-stay-open type, but most are rather difficult. Kain is also a shape-shifter, turning into a bat, wolf, nobleman, or mist, each having a different purpose that must be utilized properly in much of the puzzle-solving aspects of the game.

Unlike the PlayStation version, this PC version hardly ever slows down. Very nice! Even load times are quicker! The one area better on the console is the control. Using the PC keyboard just doesn’t have the feel of the PlayStation controller. Here, controls seem to be a bit more unresponsive and a little more sluggish. Other than that, these two versions are identical, making Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain a solid game that deserves a look, especially if you never played the PlayStation version.

Graphics graphics
While not mind-blowing, the graphics are adequate and look nice in high-res. There’s also some very cool light sourcing in the dark caves, crypts, and castles, with everything animated well, and FMV sequences that are especially well done.

Sound sound
The voice acting is superb; the sound effects — whether it be Kain slurping up his victim’s blood or enemy and ambient noises — excellent and very lifelike; and the music is very good with dark soundscapes fitting the game nicely.

Enjoyment enjoyment
The story is very interesting and quite good, immersing players from start to finish by offering a great challenge, although I enjoyed playing this game a little more on the PlayStation version because it’s just not as fun with a keyboard.

Replay Value replay
There are lots of secret things to be found in the world of Nosgoth, but it doesn’t really warrant a “play me again.”

Documentation documentation
The well-written instruction manual explains everything you need to know about gameplay, using menus, items, and spells.

Rating: 80/100

WCW Nitro Synopsis and Features

WCW Nitro features a variety of game modes including Exhibition, Exhibition Tag Team, Tournament, Vs, Vs Tag Team, and Royal Rumble. Players can wrestle alone or challenge up to three friends to a Royal Rumble. WCW Nitro also features 64 playable characters with 16 of these available at the beginning of the game. These fighters include such favorites as Hulk Hogan, Giant, Randy Savage, Sting, and Kevin Nash.

Players can choose from several rings in such known locations as Nitro, NWO, American Bash, Halloween Havoc, and WCW. Each fighter also has a large list of diverse moves created appropriately upon their real-life counterpart right down from move selection to execution of the move. Other options include selection of match time from one to five to ten minutes or unlimited, ring out from unlimited to 60 seconds, three different difficulties, ability to turn surprise attacks on or off, ring selection, sound balances, sound mode, and control configuration.

Features
Play as or against 64 WCW stars, including Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Sting
Compete in an exhibition match, a tournament, a tag team match, or a battle royal
Master each wrestler’s signature moves to finish off your opponent

Ian Botham’s International Cricket 96 Synopsis

Beam know that the game of cricket converted to a video game would be plain stupid since it would essentially take at least five days of play to get a result, hardly what gamers want. Ian Botham’s International Cricket 96 therefore plays more like a baseball title with fast scoring, quick wickets and unrealistc means.

The game features both major styles of cricket: one day internationals and tests. One day internationals are fun and with the ability to change the overs to ten a side and is perfect for this unrealistic cricket title. Test match cricket on the other hand is useless as the real thing takes up to five days with one team needed to be bowled out twice to take victory. However in this game these tests take less than a day taking away any purpose of this mode.

The game also features plenty of options and a two-player mode that is bound to be fun with friends. Ian Botham’s International Cricket 96 is a interesting take on the sport but it lacks the realism for fans of the game and thrill factor for non fans.

Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball Review

Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball features typical baseball action with great looking stadiums. One of the differences in this game as compared to others is that the play-by-play is very accurate. Unfortunately, nearly everything else is hurting.

Pitching is the best part of the gameplay, this may be due more to the hitting being the worst part though. The game features eight different pitches which is a good variety. For hitting it would have been nice if players were able to use more strategy than simply going up to the plate and hacking. Hitting can be a chore because you need to swing before you see the pitch in order to hit it. Fielding is set up nicely and the baseball diamond looks good. In the lower left corner a mini field appears to help you follow fielders and the baserunners. Baserunning does not have a large impact in this game as the baserunners are not allowed to lead off base.

Graphics are mixed. Stadiums are the best looking objects in the game and players are the worst. Players are not drawn clearly and pixelate beyond recognition at times. Sounds of the game, other than the announcer, are weak as well.

Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball may have looked good if there was no competition, but on a system that many baseball games call home, including the great World Series Baseball 98, this game fails in comparison. There is no reason to choose a game like this when there are so many better baseball titles available.

Graphics

Stadiums are represented well.

Sound

Only the announcer is up to par.

Enjoyment

Hitting needs some work.

Replay Value

Plenty of options but with a low fun factor replay is limited.

Documentation

Contains everything you will need to play the game.