I don’t consider myself a purist, but I have some issues with Wheel of Time the game as it fits in with the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. To give you a little bit of my background with the series, I have read all eight books at least twice and I already know that the ninth book in the series comes out in the Fall of 2000, and I will be there the day it comes out to purchase a copy.
Several other members of the GiN staff are also fans of the book and have been battling me for time to play the game, so I am anxious to hear their comments, as well as any other fans comments about what I have to say. If you are not a fan, fear not, this game is a prequel to the series and requires absolutely no knowledge of the books to make it a fun game. Perhaps you may even enjoy the game more having not read the books.
When I first heard that this game was coming out I was thrilled. I have followed it’s development for quite a while now at www.wheeloftime.com and I was trilled to hear it was finally being released. I have been most anxious to learn how they were going to handle the issues related to the casting of the one power (Magic), since this is after all a first person shooter. To be honest I was expecting something more like a system where you learn how to weave more complex spells as the game progress plus a stamina level, where you get too tired to cast spells after a couple uses and you must find restorative foods or something. Most of us were actually expecting an RPG instead of a shooter.
The game on the other hand adds an item system where you can find items that give you the ability to cast a specific spell a couple times, and then it is destroyed. While these items do exist within the books, to be a full Aes Sedai sister like Elayna (the main character in the game’s story) you should have the ability to use the one power. They get around this by saying that she has some limited ability in that area and is an expert with ter’angreal (items that give you the power to use the one power). As I think you can probably tell by now I am not that thrilled with their solution or their explanation.
On the other hand, speaking as a fan, just getting to walk around the world of Robert Jordan was absolutely thrilling. After the opening scene, you get to battle trollocs thru a ruined camp of tinkers, and then you move into Shadar Logoth. Now honestly, as a fan of the series, who has not wanted to explore that city? Well you get to explore it extensively, I think that walking through this ruined city battling trollocs and dodging tendrils of mashadar, a deadly fog, was truly the highlight of the game for me.
Taking off the hat of a WOT fan for a moment, this game is really cool. The variety of spells is great. There are over 40 offensive and defensive spells, the great challenge is to use them wisely. New spells are introduced gradually during the 18 levels of the single player game, so it is almost like a training session for the multiplayer game, except that it’s a lot of fun.
The multi player segment of WOT is where this game really shines. Arena is a giant battle pit full of all 40 types of ter’angreal, you never know if you spell is going to work or come back at you because the other guy is using a defensive spell. Or you can be walking along and get hit by a trap out of know where. Ouch. I thought Half-life was fun, but this is a blast.
Citadel is an ingenious twist on the old capture the flag games. Phase one is where you set up your citadel, hide your seal (flag), and place all sorts of nasty traps and computer controlled troops – and generally make it as hard as possible for anyone to get to your flag. Phase two is where you go out and attack between one and three other citadels, sneaking through all the traps they have set, to capture their seal.
Overall, as a fan, I am of extremely mixed feelings about this game. I did not like how they worked magic, but walking through the world was very intriguing. Speaking as a game reviewer I have to say this game is really impressive. The graphics were spectacular, the interface was good, and the learning curve on the single player game was perfectly balanced. The unique multi player aspects of this game are great. Taking all of this into consideration I think this game is deserving of a well above average ranking of 4 GiN Gems.