Let's face it - Diablo fans are hard done by. We are forced to sit
back and watch one FPS after another pile up while we sit
patiently awaiting "the second coming". Throw in a bunch of
delays from Blizzard and a post-Christmas release dry spell and
you have some pretty unruly gamers on your hands! Not to
mention the fact that a few of my associates here at Game-Over
(*ahem* PN, *ahem* Loth) who just wouldn't shut up about Final
Fantasy 8 until I hog tied them with mouse cords and gagged them
with an old Ultima cloth map (finally a use for the damn thing!).
Nox spells relief.
Finally something interesting to play with!
The story behind Nox goes something like this: Blah blah blah blah
blabbity blah blah blah. Guys, whatever 30 seconds you spent
lying awake in bed coming up with this plot was completely
wasted. Seriously. Don't get all pissy about it though, I don't
really count this as a strike against Nox as I wouldn't even consider
it to be a true RPG. There are no character attributes, level-ups
are all but irrelevant, and the game flow is about as linear as you
can get. You can take your pick from three different classes -
warrior, conjurer, and wizard after which you name the little guy
and pick the colour of his shoelaces and collar (no really!).
The Nox engine is an interesting piece of work. Instead of
background objects being welded to the floor or painted on the
walls, you can actually move around most items in the game.
Everything from weapons to benches and crates can be pushed
around. While some of this is purely pointless, at times you will
need to arrange items a certain way to complete a puzzle. The
same effect is also used to set the mood in the tombs as you break
through a secret wall only to have a pile of human bones come
pouring out on top of you. Veeeery spoooooky! You have your
pick of 640x480, 800x600, and 1024x768 resolutions as well as a
number of other GFX switches. The visuals are very detailed and
colourful although they are a little on the small side in hi-res
mode. One minor bitch about the graphics: Westwood your artists
need a lesson in perspective. A lot of items just look plain wrong
the way they are drawn in the 3/4 isometric view. Also, shadows
are very inconsistent; some items have them while others don't. I
think the solution to this would have been a 3d engine with
dynamic lighting. As well, the action bogs down a few times
during the course of the single player campaign (and no, don't
email me telling me I'm smoking crack because it works fine on
your system - you obviously haven't built the staff of oblivion yet).
One cool feature that takes some getting used to is the line of
sight. You see only what your character would see while
everything else is blacked out. Sounds stupidly simple but you
really have to see it in action to appreciate it.
Normally the way I rate sound and music is this: If it doesn't annoy
me after 10 minutes, then it's half decent. So I was happy as a pig
in shit when I heard the Nox audio. The FX are solid. From the
crunch of disintegrating bones as mace strikes skeleton, to the
*STOMP* *STOMP* *STOMP* of a mechanical golem bearing down
on you, you will not be disappointed. The voice acting is
enthusiastic and at times even funny. But it's the music that really
takes the cake. Brilliant mood setting tracks are used throughout
the game and it really does add a lot to the overall experience.
Westwood hang on to this sound crew!
One of the major complaints with Nox is the lack of a multiplayer
co-op mode. In Westwood's defence I can see how this would
have been difficult to implement. This game is not like Diablo
where you just run around in random dungeons fighting off clouds
of baddies, it is more quest driven and the focus is not on jacking
up your characters stats. Don't worry though, what's missing in
co-op is more than made up for with other game modes. Nox
borrows a few of the popular FPS multiplayer game types like
capture the flag and team deathmatch as well as adding some
fresh ideas such as king of the realm and powerball. Thankfully
Westwood has revamped their online service since the last time I
used it so now it resembles Blizzard's Battle.net rather than that
old reeking pile of shit called Wchat. I would have preferred a
simple text server browser rather than the fancy-pants graphical
listing because you have to click on each server one at a time to
see what game options are set (if anyone knows otherwise, drop
me a line). Hosting your own game is pretty simple; there is a
detailed menu system to control all the options from minimum
ping time to what spells and items are banned. You can see there
was a great deal of work put into the multiplayers aspects of Nox.
So is it fun? Helllllll yeah! Out of all the gameplay modes, I like
CTF the best. Setting traps and summoning all sorts of creatures to
guard your flag adds an element of strategy that seems to be
missing from a lot of FPS games. The more I play online the more
I am amazed how Westwood managed to balance all three player
classes. There is no single class that dominates all the servers.
I'll warn you in advance - the way the control is laid out takes
some getting used to. You hold down a button to move while you
steer with your mouse. Right off the bat I remapped "walk" to
space bar so I could use my mouse buttons for other functions.
Spell control is very accessible. You build up spell sets by
dragging spells from your Big book o' Spells onto your spell belt.
Then from there you press hotkeys to fire off your magic in battle.
Traps are also created in a similar manner except you get to stack
spells and customize your evil little killing creations. You have a
wide variety of spells at your disposal. They don't have quite the
flash of the Diablo spells but at least you get a good variety.
Personally I like playing as conjurer - there's nothing more
satisfying than summoning armies of hellish little creatures to do
your dirty work. Although the warriors can't use magic, they aren't
totally left in the cold as they have the ability to use special skills
such as "berzerker charge" which dishes out massive amounts of
damage and "war cry" which stuns spellcasters temporarily. If you
take a look in your inventory you will also notice an extra weapon
slot. You can use the 'v' key to quickly swap back and forth
between your two main weapons during the heat of battle. This is
a great feature particularly with the warrior; slap a sword or axe in
his hand and then a shuriken in his auxiliary slot and you are
ready to slice and dice both pesky wizzards and gear-headed
If you jump into Nox expecting the usual action RPG stuff, you just
won't find it. Nox has an entirely different focus. I like to think of it
as a fusion of Diablo and Quake. Single player is half-decent
although the campaign is too short but multi is where the real
action is at! Nox is certainly good enough to hold you over until
Diablo 2 so go sharpen your sword, lace up your leather boots and
I'll see you online.
Highs: Great multiplayer options, variety of spells, music is
Lows: No co-op mode, single player game is too short,
some slowdown when things get crowded
P.S. It has become apparent the more and more I play on
Westwoods servers that the game has a tendency to lag. Even
when you host your own game you experience lag (unbelievable!).
It's really too bad because multiplayer is a hell of a lot of fun. I'm
subtracting 8 points from gameplay to reflect this issue.
Overall Impression [6/10]