Reviews by Zirun
Old, But Still GreatZirun | June 4, 2015 | Review of Wizardry 8 - PC
Wizardry 8 is a game that bridges the gap between old-school RPG and modern RPG: It has the difficulty and mechanics of 90s RPGs (such as the previous entries in the Wizardry series), but has the resolution and functionality to make playing the game possible without needing to reference the manual twice a minute. If you're used to 90s PC RPGs like Might & Magic, Realms of Arkania, or previous Wizardry games, you'll feel right at home. If, like me, you haven't played any RPGs from that era, Wizardry 8 will be a fairly big departure -- It'll feel slow and clunky at times, and you may have to consult some documentation here and there -- but you won't have to devote what seems like an eternity just to learn how the game works before you can even begin playing. The two things that Wizardry 8 does very well and that hold up to this day are its character customization and its combat. Creating a character has you pick a race, each with their own distinct abilities and stats, and a class, again, each distinct from the rest. In a way similar to Dungeons & Dragons, you have classes that are a combination of two (Lords, for example, are Warrior-types that can cast some spells at higher levels) as well as the ability to change from one class to another. You then take up to 6 of these custom characters (plus up to 2 NPC allies) into battle in a turn-based fashion, with a few twists. Characters are given a position in your group: Front, left, right, back, or middle. When you encounter enemies out in the world, they can attack you from any side (so long as that side isn't protected by terrain), meaning you need to plan your set-up carefully; if you put your squishy mages in the back, they can be attacked by any melee enemies that sneak up behind your party. Characters in the middle are generally safest, being impossible to hit with short-range weapons, but only as long as allies stand the the circle around them; if all allies between them and the monsters are incapacitated, enemies can then freely attack those in the middle. Because of this, you need to take some time to plan out battles, surveying the world for a tight doorway or wall you can use to your advantage to limit the opponents' attack options. The main drawback of the battles is that they can take an inordinate amount of time; a dozen or more enemies running around plus up to 8 player characters means each turn can take quite a while to play out. By today's standards, the improvements brought by Wizardry 8 compared to previous PC RPGs aren't anything special. The ability to right-click on things to learn more about them, in-game descriptions for items and spells, lists of key words and phrases you can use you learn more information (instead of having to remember or write down key words to recite to NPCs), being able to see and move around the world in three dimensions... Those things were huge leaps over Wizardry 7, but are commonplace in modern gaming. Wizardry 8 also eased up on the soul-crushing difficulty that was commonplace in the genre, making battles less reliant on randomness due to characters dying in just one or two hits... You'll still want to save after every battle, though, because it's still not an easy game! If you've never played a 90s-era PC RPG and want to, this is the best experience you'll find without needing to dedicate an extreme amount of time to learning how the game works and figuring out what to do.
An Oversized YawnfestZirun | May 2, 2015 | Review of Kings Bounty Warriors of the North The Complete Edition - PC
On its face, the idea is great: Heroes of Might and Magic-style combat in a deep RPG. However, Warriors of the North, like the previous games in the King's Bounty series, doesn't at any point earn the right to be compared in a favorable light to Heroes of Might and Magic. Warriors of the North is more like the half-brained child of a king that is never revealed to the public for fear that the public will see the child's father as incompetent. The ultimate problem with King's Bounty: Warriors of the North is that it's too easy. The starting island can be difficult, but once you have access to more options for units, everything becomes a cakewalk... Assuming you can figure out the 'right' way to play (and if you can't... enjoy greatly increased backtracking). There are units that combine high damage and the ability to resurrect each other and themselves, making most battles only a matter of patience: Hold the enemy melee units off with slows, traps, and other crowd control while you kill them with powerful ranged or retaliation-free attacks, then resurrect everybody that died once you have the enemy down to a few harmless units. Doing this, you can fight 99% of the battles in the game without losing a single unit so long as you can suffer through the tedium of fighting battles that way, with no challenge. The easy difficulty is made worse by the fact that the game is incredibly long... and not in a good way. Expect to take 50+ hours to complete this game, but expect very little outside of the boss fights to be challenging unless you deliberately make it more challenging by choosing sub-par units or fighting battles far above your head. The game is filled with wandering monsters, almost none of which will ever provide a challenge, but which must be dealt with in order to move around the various environments. Whether or not you're fighting every battle without losing a single unit, the game is still incredibly tedious. Especially early on (or if you're suffering losses), you need to backtrack constantly to recruit units. As you progress through the game, you may have to go very far out of your way to recruit units if you use some that are relatively rare. It was a good idea of the developer to give you reserve slots to hold extra, non-fighting units in, so that you can replenish your stock without having to do this... But you only have 2 reserve slots, while you have 5 main troop slots, meaning you can only top up 2 out of 5 units like this. You also may want to consult a guide here and there. Descriptions are sometimes very unclear, with spelling and grammar errors; it's quite clear this isn't a game created by people whose first language is English. Quests in particular can be difficult to follow, as the quest journal will frequently only give you vague instructions that aren't at all helpful. The Ice and Fire DLC expands on both the strengths and the weaknesses of the game: It adds more unnecessary content as well as some new variety when it comes to units, items, etc. It also adds the ability for units to gain levels through combat, giving them slight bumps in random stats whenever they do so. It's a nice addition, but it's completely random what stats are increased, so it's ultimately not a very compelling addition. If what you're looking for is a game like Heroes of Might and Magic, you may be in luck with this one. Just keep in mind that this isn't Heroes of Might and Magic, but rather a single map of Heroes of Might and Magic that goes on for several thousand turns and doesn't have any enemy AI, instead leaving you alone in an oversized landscape to wipe the floor with random units until you come across the occasional one that makes you have to think in order to beat it.
Solid dwarven action with great varietyZirun | Aug. 4, 2012 | Review of Dwarfs - PC
First, the bad: This game has crashed on me once. Its graphics aren't as amazing as Crysis 2. The story isn't as good as a classic like Chrono Tigger. But that's not what we're playing Dwarfs!? for! This is a great mix of action and strategy. It combines the excavation and discovery elements of games like Dig-Dug and Motherload with the oftentimes frenetic action that's normally only found in the RTS genre, and does it in a great manner. The challenge of micromanaging these little dwarves is immense, and can at times be nearly impossible (especially in the mode that features an endless stream of dwarves for you to watch over as long as possible, or at the end of a long game when you have dwarves in every corner of the earth), but that's part of the fun. Trying to keep your dwarves alive, secure objectives, kill enemies, and expand your bases, all while trying to do as little as possible, may not sound like the most fun in the world, but when an hour disappears from your life watching the little guys live and die, it's hard to not enjoy it. There's also a great amount of variety in the game's simple mechanics. Despite there only being 2 hazards and a small handful of enemies, the random nature of the levels and several modes add a lot of gameplay and replay value.
Better than The Legend, but still flawedZirun | July 30, 2012 | Review of Kings Bounty Armored Princess - PC
This game is undoubtedly better than the previous, King's Bounty: The Legend. The aforementioned game was a solid one in its own right; it lacked some features and had some issues, but it was a generally fun experience in the vein of Heroes of Might and Magic. Now we come to King's Bounty: Armored Princess. An all new story, though it is easy to forget given how long it can take to get from one story element to the next. New features, better graphics, new items, new spells. All good, right? Not quite. My main problem with Armored Princess is the problems that were present in The Legend that weren't even improved upon in this game. Things like a constant time-wasting journey between where the enemies are and where you get your troops from. It adds nothing to the game (compared to a Heroes of Might and Magic game, where troop replenishing is a part of the overall strategy one uses to win the game), and yet there are no rally points for troop hiring or anything of the sort; you have to remember and go to each place where your 5-7 troop types are found whenever you want more of them. These and other things (like the sometimes atrocious pathing) can really hurt the experience. Ultimately, King's Bounty: Armored Princess is a good game. Just be warned, though, that you will spend a lot of time backtracking and trying to click on the right places to make your character more. It could be a deal-breaker for some that it has these problems, but for those who can live with those and other issues like them, Armored Princess is a great Heroes of Might and Magic-like RPG.
Great, but lacking in RPG elementsZirun | July 24, 2012 | Review of Mass Effect 2 RoW - PC
Mass Effect 2 is a great game, which is to be expected from Bioware. The story is top notch as usual, the characters and their interactions are wonderful, and the settings are dazzling. All together, it makes a great story- and character-based shooter. But it's not so much an RPG in the traditional sense, for it's severely lacking in customization options (only a handful of weapons and abilities per class) and what's there doesn't let one differentiate their Shepard from others. Sure, you could be somewhat better with sniper rifles, but there aren't any "Hey, I can do this and YOU CAN'T!" things like class-based special abilities or pinnacle feats that only the best in a certain weapon or combat type can use. That's not to say that ME2 is bad in any way; it simply caters to a somewhat different audience that other Bioware (or ME) offerings. I'd almost call it "FPS player's first RPG" if it didn't have such a deep story. It's very much worth playing for any RPG player who doesn't mind traditional RPG gameplay elements taking a backseat.