Review by WillRichtor
"Paint by numbers Hack'n'Slash, unworthy of the D&D name"
D&D Heroes is a classically styled Hack and Slash adventure, played through with 1-4 players, and viewed from an overhead perspective. The game utilizes the D&D license as nothing more than a bestiary, item and spell list, and graphical backdrop.
D&D Heroes graphics is a definite mixed bag. Enemy models look the way they're supposed to, but unless you've never played a D&D game in your life(pen and paper or video game) then there's nothing here you haven't slain several thousand times already. Player characters look alright, nothing spectacular. WHen you zoom in on them, your characters a fairly detailed, but then zooming in is a good way to make the game pretty unplayable.
The environmental graphics are spread entirely too thin. Nice touches here and there just don't make up for the fact that everything is just completely generic. Don't expect to see any of the sites of the Forgotten Realms.
Overall, the graphics are just a placeholder, they serve their purpose, (you can see what's going on, and it doesn't slow down often) but don't expect to be impressed by anything here.
Well, I guess you could say they fit the graphics in terms of richness and originality(trans- sound is mediocre at best) Clanging metal, grunts, deathshrieks, and spell effects are all here, it's just that they all seem like stock sound effects that have been used in a million other games over the years. Maybe I'm wrong, but listen for yourself and see if it doesn't sound just familiar enough to inspire a yawn. I really can't comment on the music, as I really don't remember hearing any past the games intro.
Gameplay is probably the strongest point of this game, and even there, it falls really flat. You got 4 characters to pick from, and you get to pick which skills they learn from the experience you earn. Past that, you just swing your weapon at everything in the environments(except the barrels of poison gas) occasionally casting a spell, avoiding a trap, or guzzling a potion. Well, alright so you'll be guzzling potions a little more than just occasionally.
The 4 heroes are reincarnations of heroes that saved the land ages ago from an evil wizard or somesuch, and of course to be entirely cliche, what do you resurrect fallen heroes for? WHy, to repeat past deeds, what else? Not only are you repeating your former lives, but from level to level, if it wasn't for the changes in background, you'd swear you were repeating the past few hours over and over again, in a cruel Groundhog Day-esque time loop.
The gameplay here DOES feature some ''innovation''(innovation within the genre, not innovation within video games as a whole), in the form of blocking and the obligatory ''Matrix/Max Payne'' bullet time button. Blocking is fairly useless, as it's harder to succesfully block an attack from the right angle than it is to just get out of the way. The Bullet Time feature might seem like a nice feature, but it really just shows how D&D Heroes was thrown together. Take 1 D&D license, 3 parts Guantlet, mix in an old grimy punchbowl that hasn't been cleaned out since Gauntlet 64 was released, and serve in a highball glass with a spritz of the hottest gimmick of the last 5 years-bullet time.
Seriously, pathetic at best. While it's interesting to watch a foe being whacked apart in slo-mo by a +1 bastard sword, it's just a gimmick at best, but to be fair, it does what it's supposed to do to, it makes it gives you a little extra time to input menu commands.
ANd you'll need that slo-mo too, because the interface is pretty clunky. For as little as you CAN do in this game, you'd thing it would have had a simplified control scheme. Seriously, you shouldn't need menus to scroll through in a 1 button attack hack'n'slash. But they're there.
I think it was covered above. 4 heroes defeated the evil wossname, died, and now they've gotten the band back together for a few more verses of that tired old song and dance. Hackneyed. Cliched. Derivative. Predictable. And I'm being nice about it.
TSR(or Wizards of the Coast, whomever holds the D&D license now) has completely lost it over the past few years, and it started with allowing Dark Alliance to share the name Baldur's Gate. These games, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and D&D Heroes, takes the great things about Dungeons and Dragons- character creation and storytelling, and just throws them out. Just throws them out like a pair of socks so old that the feet have dry rotted and crumbled, exposing that painfull bunyan to the unforgiving leather of the inside of the shoe.
It's a joke that games like this and Dark Alliance share the D&D title. It's a shame to see such a great role playing experience whored out as a crutch because some developers are too lazy to come up with their own weapons and monsters. The ties between these games and REAL D&D is so superficial it's sickening. The saddest part, is that even as weak as EVERY feature of these games is, gameplay, graphics, sound, etc- had they seen fit to do away with the premade characters and adopted D&D's character creation engine, we could have had something truly wonderful.
When are they going to learn? D&D players want a game like the REAL Baldur's Gate, not just another guantlet with mediocre graphics and sound, for god's sakes we've had plenty of those. We've had darn near 20 years of those games. This game cannot be recommended to anyone other than those who have to play boring derivative hack'n'slash, trying to recapture the glory of 4-player Gauntlet in a mid 80's arcade.
Save yourself the quarters and invest in a game that tries to do SOMETHING new, or fun, or interesting... For the price of this game you can buy Baldur's Gate II AND a decent enough computer to run it with(HP 600 mhz Pcs going for $19.00 on Ebay as you read this) so please, do yourself a favour and go do that.
In summary, there's nothing here(excepting graphics) that wasn't done better on NES, TG-16, Sega Genesis, SNES, Sega Saturn, N64, PS1, Dreamcast, etc.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/04
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