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Game Over Online ~ Hexplore

GameOver Game Reviews - Hexplore (c) Infogrames, Reviewed by - DaxX / CompuAcid /

Game & Publisher Hexplore (c) Infogrames
System Requirements P100, 16mb RAM, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Monday, June 15th, 1998 at 05:00 PM

Divider Left By: DaxX Divider Right

OoOooOoOoo this game had promise. Too bad it turns out that it SUCKS. Seriously though, reading all the info from while the game was installing made me start to salivate. Could this be the Zelda of the PC? Could it have a more versatile game engine and more RPG elements than Diablo? Would the co-op multiplay be as much fun as co-op Diablo, or better? I crossed my fingers as I started it up, enjoyed the intro movie (albeit not a patch on Blizzard's rendered intros), and started into the game. About 5 minutes later I was looking for the option to toggle the game from TERRIBLE to GOOD.

Graphics: [13/20]

Using a new voxel-based engine they called VoxIso, this game promised a lot of potentially impressive and functional features, like zooming in and out at any moment, and the main feature, free 360 rotation of the background, in real time, allowing traps, objects, characters or secret passages hidden behind walls or cliffs, etc. to be seen. However the game's graphics are really quite bad. Even in high-res mode, the characters are so utterly pixellated it's a joke. The best example of this is when I was in the first village, when I came upon this blob of pixels with no recognizable shape. I moved the mouse cursor over this blob, and the name it gives me is "village child". It was just ridiculous. As well, the entire game is super choppy, in low-res and high-res. When you highlight an item or creature, or pick up an item, you are treated to a cheap animation of different colored arrows doing different things. When you pick up an item, these 4 yellow arrows come up from the item and seperate. It looks bad, and doesn't help the game at all. Another cheesy "feature" is how enemies sink into the ground like 2 seconds after you kill them. I would expect them to stay a bit, or at least go through some manner of natural decomposition to explain their absence, not just them magically sinking in the ground. The free rotation is actually kinda neat, but when you combine the rest of the pixellated graphics, it's like giving a 3rd (height) dimension to Wolfenstein 3d, it's just an added feature to a severely limited engine. One of the very few neat ideas is shroud, the entire map is covered in black until you explore it, so you are always surprised about what is up ahead.

Sound: [12/15]

Some of the sound in this game is decent, the rest inadequate. There is an original score of music in the game that goes along quite nicely, it definitely adds to the adventurous element and to a certain extent inspires you to go on. The speech is good, the characters all have unique voices as do the villagers and such that you meet along the way. The sound FX are quite inadequate, the combat sounds are just weak, and there are tons of ambient sound effects that are missing. Combat is the worst however, you don't get any sword clanging, screams of pain, projectiles hitting flesh etc. It is MUCH weaker than Diablo in this respect. You basically click on an enemy and a little while later he's dead and lying on the floor, with you taking some damage. I can't believe they couldn't improve the sound to the same level as the speech/music.

Gameplay: [16/25]

This game is slow, very slow. There is no element of surprise, no excitement, no FUN. Your characters plod along slowly, occasionally wandering into an enemy. What a blast the combat is (sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell). Click on an enemy and you get a cheesy red-arrow animation. Your character(s) run up, maybe you'll see a sword animation, and a few seconds later the enemy is dead or you are dead. It is so tedious and drab it drove me nuts. There is no fun at all in the combat, and since a majority of the game is combat, you can tell what effect this has on the entire game. The problem is compounded when there are multiple enemies, since the game has such a terrible framerate and pixellated graphics that it becomes a chore seeing who you are attacking, and directing characters to attack. It seems impossible in a party situation to change the character you are controlling quickly, it seems, unless I am missing a shortcut key. You must click their picture in the top of the screen to select them, and therefore directing all members of the parties to attack different enemies becomes a huge chore. As well another stupid problem is when you select all the characters, there is a "lead" character who is the single character you had selected before you selected them all. This lead character picks up the experience points (which is cheesily represented as a white star that you have to pick up) and all the items, not sharing with the other members of the party. What this means is that if you want to raise all your characters experience at the same time, you have to get the different characters to pick up the experience at different occasions, instead of splitting the EXP between all the selected characters. This is an added hassle, one of the many that reduce the playability of this game. The RPG elements of this game are weak, you talk to villagers, and learn the "plot" through these non-interactive dialogues. There are some situations of having to run errands for people (pick up a sledgehammer from a farmhouse for a guy stranded on a road, rewarding you with a health potion) and solve puzzles, but basically the game is combat, and as I've mentioned many a time before, the combat is b-a-d. Probably the absolutely most annoying feature is the scrolling, which is jumpy and choppy and almost impossible to use. There is a large lag factor between moving the mouse to the edge of the screen and the screen actually moving, so you will be surprised when and how fast the screen scrolls. You will probably end up using the arrow keys on the keyboard to move, since its choppy scrolling is a huge improvement over the mouse scrolling. You _will_ get lost on the screen due to a scrolling mishap, and it might take a while to recuperate your position. There is no excuse for such terrible scrolling, and it makes a big difference in this game.

Fun Factor: [14/20]

This game had the potential of being fun, combining the elements of Zelda with the graphics of Diablo. It doesn't live up to its potential. Boring combat, terribly pixellated graphics even at high-res, and monotonous gameplay ruin what could have been a good title. The more you play, the more you will be dragged into this game, but it's very hard to stay with this game since it's so terribly boring and slow. The plot is adequate but not spellbinding. The dialogue is flat and non-interactive, and the entire game seems like a chore to play. It promises a minimum of 70 hours of gameplay, a very impressive feat, but I doubt there is more than a handful of gamers out there who will have the patience to pass it. The factors against enjoying this game are too numerous. Even the 360 rotation can't help this game, it is used in a very obvious fashion where you can see an object is placed in a certain position just so you have to rotate to find it. It is kind of neat, just spinning in place is more fun than actually playing this game.

Multiplay: [3/5]

This game has a neat premise for multiplay, up to 4 people can play co-op and run around as a little band, killing guys along the way. Although the lag is minimal (at least with 2 player mode with a cable modem hosting and a dialup), the game is still no fun. Perhaps if the adventure elements and combat were more fun, running around with 3 friends in a co-op party would be a blast, but unfortunately bad graphics, bad combat, and limited things to do (all CoMpuACiD and I found to do was kill stuff...) makes multiplay as boring as single play. It's a shame, 4 player co-op in this type of game could be as good/better than Diablo, since the game has more RPG elements and more things to do. Maybe in a sequel..

Overall Impression: [7/10]

This game could have, with a MUCH better graphic engine and MUCH better combat, been a huge improvement over Diablo in terms of RPG elements, and brought to the PC an adventure/rpg game comparable to the quality of Zelda on the consoles. Unfortunately the graphics are terribly pixellated, even at high-res, the combat is really bad, and the RPG elements are superficial, as is the plot. The 360 rotation is a unique feature and could potentially be used to add another level of depth to a basically "flat" game. Too bad it doesn't work in this game. Multiplay co-op could be good, but it's not, due to the flawed engine and combat. Basically this game has a lot of potential, it was just executed rather poorly. Perhaps another company can step in and use the template of this game and polish it up, and we'll have a hit on our hands.


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Divider Left By: CompuAcid Divider Right

Hexplore is set in the dark time of 1000 AD. In a world of magic, lost treasures and forgotten realms, a secret brotherhood of dark sorcerers are searching for the Garden of Eden, where the book of divine knowledge is hidden. With your party of four heroes, you'll have to find HEXPLORE, the sacred book revealing the Garden's precise location.

You start as a single adventurer, with little direction as to where to go, or who to find. Walking through the forest, I quickly came upon monsters that were easily killed. Gathering experience points, I found a town, and found knowledge of the great evil plaguing the village. Now driven by a quest I pick up a warrior, archer, and sorcerer to find the Fortress of the Stone Men. And so your quest begins....

Graphics [10/20]

As in most modern day role playing games, the game is based in a isometric viewpoint. Utilizing a 3D voxel rendering concept cleverly named "VoxIso", the game can be completely rotated or zoomed in or out. Despite the fancy wording, the graphics are very distasteful. The characters, monsters, and weapons lack any hint of clarity. No 3D acceleration of any kind is used in the game, although it would have been very useful for the sake of clarity. In fact, everything in the game seems to be very pixeled even in at HIGH resolution. When your characters become engaged in battle, it quickly becomes difficult to distinguish much of anything. The weapon effects are no fireworks display. They exhibit the same ugly appearance that you might see coming from your old Nintendo stuck in the closet. One of the biggest, if not the biggest problem in the game was the mouse scrolling. The scrolling is simply terrible. The game switches screens in a very slow choppy fashion, even on a PII! This tends to be extremely annoying at every point in the game. One could quickly lose his place in the game many times due to the terrible scrolling. Infogames could have done a much better job in this area. The whole engine seems to be sluggish and choppy, something I thought I wouldn't have to see in today's line of RPGs.

Sound [12/15]

In the sound area, Infogames seemed to perform fairly well. The entire musical atmosphere really sets you into an adventurous mood. With original music scores playing in the background, you can really get into the game. The speech was fairly decent. Each character in the game, having a unique voice, adds to the atmosphere. Sound effects were fair as well, from the casting of curse to the propulsion of the arrow, the sound effects resembled their real life counterparts in every way.

Gameplay [18/25]

If you're looking for an in-depth RPG that will keep you occupied for hours, look elsewhere. The storyline is boring if you ever get enough information to call it a story. The gameplay is quite elementary, involving few spells, simply point and click fighting, and finding keys. Your characters do increase in experience, which in turn adds to their HP and MP. Although, the simple battles that your characters fight quickly become repetitive. The story does hold some interest in the player, requiring the player to be involved in numerous quests and exploring castles, caves, and caverns. Unlike many games in the RPG genre, the game lacks a need for thought and understanding. You usually find yourself simply finding keys to open one door or another, rarely solving any puzzles. Although some hard-core RPG gamers might still enjoy this title, most will probably wait for something better (Baldur's Gate?).

Overall Fun Factor [14/20]

Hexplore takes some time for the player to get into the story. Although once you advance into the game, the game becomes a little more in-depth and will keep you playing for a few hours. Despite the estimated seventy hours of gameplay Infogames advertises, I was quickly bored with the storyline in under two hours.

Packaging [5/5]

Multiplayer [4/5]

I was only able to engage in two games for this review. The internet play seemed to be quite fluid, although the synchronization sequence often interrupted gameplay. Overall, the multiplayer capibilities seem to be fine for modems to play over the Internet with little lag.

Overall Impression [7/10]

The game has some factors in its favor, yet overall I was disappointed with this game. The game seems to fail to capture my interest as do most RPGs. If you're a hardcore RPG gamer, you might find some fun in this title. Otherwise you might as well keep waiting till the next big RPG hits store shelves.


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