Interplay Production’s latest release, Die by the Sword, takes the behind the back perspective made famous in Tomb Raider and successfully incorporates it into an all encompassing sword fighting experience.
The main game involves a warrior named Elric, a simple swordsman who is enjoying a peaceful evening with his girlfriend Maya. They are suddenly attacked by an army of kobolds, and Elric chases after them. Little does he know that other kobolds arrive to carry Maya away in order to be used as a human sacrifice. Returning to the area to find his beloved missing, he races to a cave where the kobolds were last seen. You know by the into that heads are gonna roll.
This is where the action begins, as Die by the Sword shows off its stuff. The behind the back perspective provides a close view of Elric’s surroundings, yet I find sometimes it’s hard to get a bead on foes who attack from behind. Traps can also be triggered, causing Elric to have to fight while hogtied. It can be a very strange experience, but it is very enjoyable.
I’ve also noticed that Elric has got himself quite a sense of humor as well. As he is fighting, he spews out one liners as if he was a medieval Duke Nukem. He already has the brute force, so I guess the humor would have to be included.
A full 3Dfx graphics engine does quite a job in providing the inner workings of the world that Elric must face, let alone the foes that he must face. Even better, when a character is damaged, you can actually see the wounds on his body. I was amazed at this realism.
Die by the Sword incorporates a new control techique called VSIM. What VSIM does is: the controller is used not only to control the player, but also to control the slashes at will. It takes a while to learn, but once mastered, it can provide full control of Elric, something other sword games have lacked in the past.
Moves can also be customized and added to your arsenal. Even better, if you find a very effective attack that might result in full decapitation, save it and freely distribute it over the Internet. I can picture players over the Internet fighting it out with these new maneuvers; that is where the Arena mode comes in. Up to four players can fight it out in an arena filled with lava, spinning blades, and even spears.
Die by the Sword is an impressive sword fighter. The first use of the VSIM technology in the computer games industry is quite successful! I hope this tradition will continue.