Review by Tenshi No Shi
"A great game gone bad..."
I still remember when I first got a taste of Hexen on the computer. One of my friends had just gotten it upon its release and told me to give it a try since I was such a Doom nut. I tried...and I liked. The concept of melding the intense shooting action of a game like Doom with the elements of an RPG was almost mind-boggling at the time. I ended up playing the game straight through and beating it. Though I didn't own a computer at the time, my chance to own a copy of Hexen would come soon enough.
Hexen is actually a sequel to a game called Heretic. The whole series (there are now four games: Heretic, Hexen, Hexen II, and Heretic II, in that order) involves a trio of beings called the Serpent Riders. The Serpent Riders basically roam the universe, looking for planets to suck dry of energy. They pose as gods and gather a following before destroying said planet. Each of the first three Heretic games deals with one of the three Serpent Riders (the fourth game deals with the aftermath of the character from the first game). In Hexen, you pick from three characters; warrior, paladin, and mage. You must then fight through an army of evil beings and confront the second most powerful Serpent Rider.
Hexen 64's graphics are a direct port of the PC version of the game. No upgrades, no extra effects, just a simple-as-it-gets copy of the computer version. Which is a tad disappointing considering the graphics boost Doom 64 got. While not too horrible, the pixelization is almost as bad as the filtered mode (you can select to use the N64's special filters to buffer out the jagged pixels). The filter mode washed out the graphics to the point that you can't tell the difference between a tree and an enemy unless right on top of it. A bland palette of colors adds the final nail to the coffin. Blah!
Hey, if you're gonna do a half-assed job porting graphics, why not do a half-assed job of porting the sound. Behold, they did just that. Seriously, would it have been so hard to try and add something new to this game? I mean, it's not like you have to come up with a fresh design for a game, you're copying another company's game for Yoda's sake! The least you could do is spend a few extra months to enhance the game to take advantage of a different system's specs! So if you can't tell, I'm not happy with the mono-synthesized sound (and I use the word sound in the loosest sense of the term) effects. Double blah!
When it rains it pours, and its freakin' thunderstorming in the land of Hexen 64. I refer, of course, to the gross misuse of the Nintendo 64 controller. You would think that a company would realize the single most important technique to a FPS is the circle-n-strafe move that allows you to move quickly around your enemy and still face him to avoid damage. Simple, easy concept, right? Nope! In order to strafe, you must press and hold a button. After press and holding said button, you must then press left or right on the directional pad. You can strafe, but you can't turn! There's no point in even strafing then! If you think that's bad, just try and do anything else you need to do in a FPS. You'll find the controls for most actions equally as atrocious.
Hexen 64 can hardly be faulted for its design. The original Hexen found on the PC is a well-designed gaming experience, with little fault except for its age. The levels and structure of Hexen 64 reproduces that faithfully. Hexen 64 is in no way a horrible game, being based as it is off of a computer game from five years ago, its just upsetting that no bothered to update its look. It's like a car company taking a rusty old car from a junkyard and duplicating it exactly, rust and all. Polish it up, slap a fresh coat of paint on it, add a CD player, but don't just copy it!
Bonuses? Bonuses?!? We don' need no steenkin' bonuses! And so you shan't have any bonuses in Hexen 64, at least none that I could find. Again, the suffrage of an unimaginative port. Wake up people, if you want gamers to take notice of your games, you have to give us some extras to make it worth our while. Even if it's only an exclusive level, it's much better than absolutely nothing at all.
I guess I would have to say if you've never played Hexen before, you should probably give this one a chance. Its not that it's a bad game, it's just that when you've seen the older version on inferior hardware, you wonder why they bothered to make the effort if they weren't going to spice it up. If you're a fan of Doom, you'll love Hexen.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 07/05/02
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