STAFF REVIEW of Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes (Xbox)

Sunday, November 2, 2003.
by thrAsher

Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes Box art Baldur's Gate has long been a thriving port city... Oh, wait, this isn't Baldur's Gate! Or is it? It feels like BG, it looks kinda like BG. I'm confused.

Okay, so it's essentially a clone of BG:DA - itself a fine romp if not a decent rental. The story serves it's purpose, but it's a been there, done that purpose. I'm not entirely bashing the game, it might be a clone, but it's got a facelift and some new tricks up it's sleeve. Much deeper in the RPG dept., but that's not saying a whole lot.

Single player game? Hardly. This is an action game built around co-op play, and it shows in the one-player experience. The levels seem overly large and open (not bad, mind you) but entirely vaccuous. Too much emptiness meant to be filled w/ other players. I had twice as much fun playing along w/ my roommate, but after a good 100% addict sessions over a weekend, the game is over and you're left feeling, well, like you just played BG:DA's big brother. The interfaces are all nice, and the ability to slow down time to change your spells/attacks/weapons is great. Characters seem evenly balanced, and each have a diverse set of abilities and characteristics that will make a second go at it much more likely than in BG:DA. Again, fun (but myopic and full of deja-vu for those who've played BG:DA).

As much as it looks like it's little brother, D&D Heroes ups the ante w/ a zoomable camera and wonderfully fluid animations. Effects abound, and spells and attacks look unique and are fun to pull off just for the purty colors. Enemies range in all sorts of sizes, from tiny to gigantic. Bosses are interesting, and old school paper and pen RPGers will recognize some old faves from their dusty Monster Manuals. The cut-scenes are sweet, although somewhat few and far between. Very good looking game, even though I found it funy that all the quests you take are pretty much given to you by buxom femme fatales. (I'm embarrassed to say, but the blue elf chick in the Ice level is SMOKING!)

"Bawoosh! Clink/clank/strongbad!(I swear!) Clink/clank/bawooosh!"... you get the picture. It's got just what you expect - cut-and-paste sounding mythical soundtrack, fireball and sword slashing FX, smug NPC voice-overs...the works. Nothing special, but again serves it's purpose(see above).

I want a real RPG, boys. I would personally like to see this weak trend of action/RPG's die a quiet death. A 'real' D&D game is what I'm left wanting after playing Heroes. Please, instead of a sequel, dig up some inspiration and get innovative. You guys are just lucky you got this title out before BG:DA II. I'll be trading this soon enough.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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