Is Wizards & Warriors the next Wizardry Game? Unfortunately not! An attempt was made here to upgrade the award winning Wizardry system, even using some of the same folk that were responsible for that series, but falls a bit short. Visually appealing, heck they almost all look good these days, the gameplay bogs down due to the interface choices made. Other reviews I have read state that the game overall is well worth playing and that the further you delve into it, the more it rewards you. Us hardcore D&D computer gamers put up with a lot to get our enjoyment. This game can provide that enjoyment as long as you are not afraid of putting a little effort into it.
The character choices are great, in my opinion. The designers have added a few character types that make the game a whole lot more fun to play. No more are you forced to lead a troop of Humans, Dwarves, Halflings, Gnomes and Elves. You get to add Lizzords, Oomphaz (my personal favorite – the elephant people), Whiskahs (cat folk), Pixies (Yea the wee folk), Gourks (pigs?), and Ratlings. That alone makes this game worthwhile for me. My group consisted of an Oomphaz warrior, Lizzord Priest, Whiskahs Rogue and Pixie wizard. This was a blast! These are some of the starting classes. Each of the initial classes can be upgraded as you gain experience in the game.
Visually, the game is appealing as well. Of course we come to expect good-looking games given the technology available. But as you see the Skeletons rising from the ground to do battle with your intrepid group, you will think "Ah, so that is what that looks like!" The terrain is also beautiful to look at, however can it be difficult to navigate at times. Here starts the limiting factors of this game. The interface.
I am used to navigating with the four cursor control keys. Forward to move forward, left to turn left, right to turn right, and back to walk backwards away from trouble without turning your back on it. Unfortunately, the left and right keys only strafe left or right and to turn right or left requires a click and hold of the mouse while you move it in the direction you wish to turn. Of course, those that like full mouse control will absolutely love this aspect of the interface. Unfortunately, I am not one of those and find it cumbersome to perform some control with the mouse and some with the keyboard.
Combat can either be realtime or time phased. This is another strong point in favor of this game. I do not like real time combat (I am just not fast enough on the mouse and keyboard to make it a fun battle in this mode) so I used the time phased mode exclusively. In this mode, when you go into the inventory or change a spell of a caster type, the action pauses while you decide the next action. When the battle is engaged, each character will be available to do something based on their statistics, equipment and previous actions. Unavailable characters will be grayed out and the computer will not get back to them until they are ready for another action. This is very well done and plays like it should.
The cursor is used to convey a lot of information, from the target’s availability to that target’s current hit point total. This is a nice touch, but the constant clicking to attack gets old very quickly. The choice of weapons, ranged or close combat, is performed automatically by the computer and you do not really know which one was used until the battle message pops up in the information window on screen. This leads to a lot of lost battle time trying to get into the right range for best results. This was easier to get used to than the trouble I encountered while trying to navigate the countryside.
While nice to look at, I found the terrain to be difficult to navigate. I was constantly running into objects like trees and getting into situations where I had to play with the controls to get my characters back to an area where I could navigate freely again. This was really only deadly when I was trying to run from critters that my party was not ready to handle at the time. The rest of the time it was just annoying and tended to extend the time necessary to explore new areas of the game.
The animation of the critters you encounter is very nice, to the point where if you go to deep into a new area too quickly you will find your party surrounded on all sides by angry enemies bent on killing you! The cautious and thorough exploration of a new area is a must here to avoid the inevitable ambush of getting too far in without having cleared the critters behind you! The creatures you meet along the way are visually well done also. As I have said, I have no complaint with the visual aspects of the game, just some of the mechanics.
The rating of 3 GiN gems is more to warn the feint hearted. For those of us that do not mind dealing with a little clunky interface to get their kicks will find this game worth the effort to play. Like I said before, many other reviews have stated that those that stick it out for the long haul will be rewarded for their perseverance. I just do not want to give the impression that this is a game for everyone as it is not.