Review by KasketDarkfyre
Dungeon crawlers are a good way to pass the long miles and ten hour breaks while driving out over the road. When you think of a good dungeon crawler, Diablo and Diablo 2 come to mind immediately with maybe a passing glance at Dungeon Siege and it's subsequent spawns. Fate is another dungeon crawler that, unfortunately, has too many resemblances to Diablo and has very little in terms of originality to be anything more than a cash in on a tried and true formula. Although it promotes character building and adventuring, it ends up becoming a game of mindless hacking and slashing through randomly generated' dungeons to attempt to give you a unique experience each time.
The story of Fate is the same as it is in most games of this type where you play the role of a hero attempting to rid the town of some named evil that rests deep within the dungeon. Usually, the demon is spawned on a random level with a random name and your job is to dive deep into the dungeons in order to find the demon and kill him. As you progress through the levels of the dungeon, you gain experience and fame as well as different armor and weapons to help you with your quest. Quests from the different townsfolk up above give you a little more flavor and something more to do than just mindlessly hacking and slashing your way through the depths.
The introduction of a pet is slightly new and gives you the ability to have a companion on your journey, but I found that the only real use that I had for the pet after the first ten levels was for holding the extra items I found. Once your pet becomes laden with items, you can send the pet back in order to sell off the excess items for gold back in the town and then come back to your side in order to load him up again. Honestly, it will save you time in the respect that you never really have to leave the dungeon in order to sell off the hordes of weapons and armor that you'll find. Money really is never a problem as the items seem to drop in huge quantities after every kill.
One of the more interesting aspects of Fate is that there is a fame system that opens up more options for items that you can buy from the townsfolk. Generally, you'll gain fame from doing the different quests that appear from the townsfolk and you can spend several hours finding and killing monsters or picking up items that the quest-givers want. Although it is an interesting idea, I really didn't find much of a use for the system and leveling it from one to twenty took several hours of back and forth travel in order to rise through the ranks. Once you've reached the top level of fame, it simply opens up more weapons and armor that you can wear and use. If you're not in the mood to travel, then collect gold and raise your level that way by buying your fame.
Another familiar system is the skill points in which you use to build your character stats. Strength, vitality, magic and dexterity are all here with a secondary set of points that you can use in order to build a certain character type, whether it is a magic user, a long-distance attacker or an up-close and personal fighter. While the character types are interesting, you'll find quickly that the magic using build will be the easiest way to complete the main quest, simply burning through the hordes of enemies with lightening or fire. I would have wished for a slightly more diverse or perhaps more in-depth character building option.
Once you've completed the main quest, you can either run back into the dungeon and explore more deeply, finding stronger items and continuing the game, or you can retire your character and create a new one. This aspect is interesting in which you can play through the game and then hand down' an item of your choosing to the new character for them to use, which after a couple of generations becomes ridiculously powerful in its scope and use. However, once you have retired your character, you can never re-active that avatar and you're stuck moving to a new character each time. Different difficulty levels only change the types of monsters that you encounter and should be reserved if you want a challenge.
Control of your avatar is fairly simple, with point and click of the mouse and very few keyboard presses. I had a little trouble at first getting my character to stand the right way and hack away at the wave of enemies, but after a few minutes, it became fairly easy. Moving through the menus is easy enough to do, with most of the menu options being on the lower hotbar. Allocating skill points is simple point and click and the equipping of armor and weapons is done with a drag and drop interface that is familiar if you've played Diablo. Pet control is completely up to the computer and really the only time that you'll have a use to click on the pet is when you need to load him down with items to send back to town, otherwise, the pet attacks automatically.
Visually, Fate is a dark and dreary affair with plenty of shadow and darkness effects. As you move through the various dungeons, you'll see fog, flame and even heat effects in different areas that really put you in the mood to explore. However, the enemy designs are the same on most levels with slight coloring changes to show a difference between a normal and an elite monster. Your character changes slightly with the different items and weapons that you place on him/her, which is neat to see, but most of the time, you're looking at the avatar from a ¾ top-down view, so you only see it in detail on the character select screen. Other effects include flames or ice flowing off of the weapons, or the magic effects that you can produce with mass destruction all around you. Enemies do not bleed however, and merely throw off stars when you kill them, but with a code, you can turn on blood effects.
The audio honestly isn't all that great, adding very little to the overall experience, with a single tune playing through most of the levels of the dungeon. Effects from battle clatter through the speakers, and the constant mewing or growling of your pet gets old after the first twenty minutes or so, and I found myself playing through without the sound on after level ten. Occasionally, a voice will blare through the speakers to tell you that you are getting low on health, magic or that your pack is full, but that is the extent of the voice effects. All in all, it is lackluster at best.
Fate isn't a bad game if you're looking to pass the time, but if you've played other games of the same type, you might find that the story is the same as you've played before. The overall game experience is just like Diablo and even the point allocation, character builds, items and weapons seem to have been lifted from the more popular series. From a gamer standpoint, the only differences I've seen is with the extra storage and item selling of the pet and the fame system, but both are limited in their usefulness, and the heirloom ability is neat, but youll be hard pressed to give up a character youve spent hours building. If you need a game to buy for the kids, or something that is cheap entertainment, then Fate is for you, but if you're looking for something more unique, you won't find it here.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 12/23/08
Game Release: FATE (US, 05/18/05)
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