Review by Redskindrummer
Reviewed: 06/27/02 | Updated: 06/27/02
If you like complex puzzles, they don't come any niftier.
Hexen II was one of the first games after Quake to use the Quake engine, and is the continuation of Hexen: Beyond Heretic's story of the fight against the three Serpent Riders. Your quest here is against Eidolon, the last and most powerful of the Serpent Riders, and his army of servants. You will also face the four Dark Generals along the way: Famine, War, Pestilence, and Death. They must all be defeated before you can reach Eidolon and attempt to take him down.
You can choose one of four character classes whenever you start a new game:
Paladin - The warrior of the bunch.
Crusader - Some warrior, some spirituality.
Necromancer - All sorcery and magic.
Assassin - More stealth than anything.
The ability to choose a character type is one reason I really like this game. That decision affects your weapons selection, your character's individual abilities, and even how certain items work in the player's hands. And then there's the puzzles.
Try this on for size - an example puzzle in Hexen II is: Find a pile of bones, grind the bones to dust, mix the bone dust to create a potion, use the potion to change an impenetrable wall into breakable wood, get a key hidden behind that wall, and move on to the next level. Where did they come up with that? Don't try this if you don't want to use your thinking caps. This game WILL test you in that arena.
The monsters you come up against can usually be overcome without too much difficulty, though your strategies for dealing with them will vary depending on which character you are. Some are as simple as oversized spiders trying to take a bite out of your leg, while others cast spells and disappear just as you fire at them.
Anyone who has played Quake will have an idea of the graphics, though a few areas in the game are rather darker than they ought to be. The skies are usually plain, but you don't buy a game to stare at the sky the entire time. As with the setting and scenery, it's all supposed to blend together and work as a whole, and sometimes in Hexen II you really will feel like you're walking through someone's abandoned house in the village, or inside of an ancient Egyptian temple.
Sound in the game is nothing terribly special; there's torches crackling as they burn, enemies growling or stomping about as they hunt for you, the wind blowing from overhead, etc. Sometimes though, you'll get a little satisfaction from the crumbling you hear after a Golem falls to the ground after the thorough beating you just administered.
Replayability will depend on whether you like to solve puzzles in FPS games, or go simply for the action. There ARE some intense fights, make no mistake, but the game definitely revolves around puzzle solving, with the fighting a little less important than most games of this genre. Personally, I think that having the four character classes is a big help here. If you just beat the game as the Paladin, wouldn't you like to see how you would do as a Necromancer, or Assassin? The game is at least worth that much.
If you can even find this game in stores now, it won't cost you much. The engine is rather outdated by now, but the game is still worth owning if only because the variance between character classes makes gameplay different every time. I'm not rating this game higher because of somewhat ordinary graphics, and it arrived on the scene a little too late to be a huge hit. It's still very much worth playing and owning; just be sure you have your brain firmly in place between your ears, because you will need it.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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