Once upon a time there was this game reviewer who played a first person sword game and was so disappointed in it that a massive, evil and powerful skepticism grew over his hopes of ever enjoying the genre. This dragon of negativity hung heavy over his heart, but there was always hope a champion would arrive one day to slay the foul beast.
Not to bust on another game, but this event occurred a long time ago – in game industry terms anyway – when people still wrote with runes, if you get my drift.
Anyway, back to the story. Everything seemed lost until one day said reviewer was walking along, doing his job reviewing Half-life Blue Shift and he encountered an enlightened chief editor who gave him a magical CD containing Blade of Darkness.
You know the rest; the skepticism arose, blah, blah"
But this chief editor would not take no for an answer, saying he had heard good things about this new title and to give it a spit. I rarely say this, but thank God for editors and their dogged persistence.
Blade of Darkness is more then just the first successful first person sword game. It’s a breakthrough in this form of gaming. Its predecessors failed because they assumed that the interface and controls of a first person sword game should be similar to that of a first person shooter game. Unfortunately for them, that isn’t the case.
First person shooter games are generally easy to play after you get accustomed to using the keyboard to make your character move and using the mouse to look around at the same time left clicking to fire, and using the scroll wheel to change weapons. The toughest these types of games get is when using different weapons like sniper rifles.
First person sword games have to be completely different because your characters efficiency as a warrior is more motion driven than in shooter games and you must be able to slash while moving, and block if necessary, all at the same time.
Codemasters, the publisher of Blade of Darkness, and the developers, Rebel Act, understood this principle well when they created Blade of Darkness and took it further by incorporating unique moves and real combat sword techniques that are executed by keyboard maneuvers, and are unique for each of the four characters.
You can choose to be an Amazon woman, resilient dwarf, brave barbarian or noble knight. My personal favorite was the knight because of the cool shields and swords he’s capable of using. Well not at first, anyway-the more you kill the stronger you get as you elevate through the levels. And the stronger you get the more weapons you can use and the special moves you have increases with your stamina.
The game is pretty close to perfect but could use some adjustments. For example when you play over the network, your opponent and you are stuck in a confining ring. I was hoping that Rebel act would take a lesson from shooter games and allow for arena size network playing with mazes, tunnels and secret hidden places. The way it’s setup now you tend to feel like you’re in a cockfight, which gets old fast.
Outside of this minor problem the game has no other major flaws. Some levels demand Rune-like obstacles for the warrior to pass through, but the obstacles are never as tedious or as long and Rune. As a result the user never gets board or feels like he or she is playing Pitfall.
The graphics are intensive as well, so I suggest you use the highest level of machine since its well worth it to watch your blade slice across an evil skeleton warrior’s neck. And for the blood thirsty, have no fear there is plenty of blood here. Its blood and gore almost to the level of another favorite title of mine, Soldier of Fortune, but not quite that bad.
The true fun comes when you face off against an obviously superior AI opponent with more hit points and a better, perhaps even poisoned, weapon. Here you have to use all your skill at feinting, dodging, blocking and attacking from their weak side if you hope to win. After surviving quite a few battles like that you get to know what works and what does not. Then slicing your formerly formidable opponent’s arm off and watching him twirl in circles spitting blood is all the more satisfying. Hey, get a few more hits in while he is going down just for good measure. Talk about a stress relief.
Auchtung! If story plot means a lot to you, then don’t play this game. The plot is about Darkness coming back to ravage the earth and you have to find some sword and kill a lot of things along the way. Still awake?
However, if kicking ass means a lot to you in a game then you’ll agree with me that Blade of Darkness gets 41/2 GIN Gems out of 5. And trust me"the last thing you’ll do is fall asleep while playing. Heart attack? Perhaps. Sleep? No way!
Oh, and that dragon of negativity that had cropped up around the woeful reviewer and his dislike of first person sword games? It was slain by Blade of Darkness, probably in a very gory and painful manner. And the reviewer lived happily ever after.