It's A Natural Progression, Really. Somewhat predictable, both in concept and execution. See, we like Quake. And we liked Hexen. We like the idea of re-casting the frenetic action pace and pyrotechnics of Quake in a fantasy, ADetD-style setting. We warm to the concept of character class, inventory management and hub-based levels. And we feel a faint, indescribable trembling in our loins at the sight of lush visuals. So lummy if our little cholesterol coated hearts aren't a-pumping with expectation over Hexen II.
Those familiar with the original Hexen will be pleased to know that numero II retains a very similar outlook. It stands somewhere between a full role-playing game and a shoot 'em up. Character classes, an inventory, and a bunch of unwashed loin cloths rub shoulders alongside explosive projectile weapons, seriously mobile monsters, and the all-powerful Deathmatch mode. You can choose from four different character classes: Palladia, Necromancer, Assassin, and Crusader. Each one sports four individual weapons with two firing modes, making a total of er, (immense pause as Windows calculator is loaded up to perform the most mundane of mental arithmetic tasks) an amazing 32 different kinds of offensive weapons, plus more than 16 'specialised' power-ups and collectable objects, to be stashed in an eight-object inventory.
Hey, but that's not all. Hexen II also features substantial upgrades to the Quake engine, with all manner of new colour effects and 'real world' environments like towns and windmills. Plus everything will be 'blow-up-able' (as they say). Doors, windows, tables, scenic elements - the whole wardrobe.
Oooh, oooh, information overload, we hear you shriek in a Quentin-esque voice. Chill mon, we reply in a soothingly deep tone. We'll take the game part by part.
After the destruction of D'Sparil and Korax (your uber-enemies in Heretic and Hexen respectively), the forces of life figured the other Serpent Riders would go on holiday or something after finally realising they were going to get their arses kicked if they tried any more funny business. Yeah right. Eidolon, the third rider, stepped into the fray and swiftly took over mankind. And now it's up to you to step in and make a truce with those who were once your enemies - those who make up the character classes in the game - and save the universe.
So you get together with the Necromancer, master of black magic, a female Assassin, a boring but dependable Crusader, and a Paladin, Two are evil. Two are good. Two are fun at parties. Two are not. Two read the good book. Two use pages of the good book to roll immense er, cigarettes. All four have substantial weaponry at their disposal, as well as 'special powers'.
The Assassin, for example, starts with a dagger for stabbing and swinging. After some rummaging, she may find some grenades - short-range, bouncy models like the FireMaee in Heretic. One step up from that is the crossbow, firing bolts which stick into walls and opponents before blowing up. If a Tome Of Power is collected at any stage, these weapons become souped-up. The dagger becomes poisoned, the grenades become exploding fragmentation bombs, and the crossbow fires flaming bolts.
The Crusader's default weapon is a WarBammer, to be used in close combat, or as a hefty boomerang when in powered-up mode. He then graduates to the Ice Mace, a custom ball of ice firer (or blizzard summoner in mode two). Then comes the Meteor Staff - similar to the Ice Mace only rockier - and on its heels, the LightBringer, an immense energy weapon which can kill through walls.
As you'd expect, the Necromancer is redolent in all manner of voodoo-esque ordinance. He begins with bog-standard magic missiles, then progresses to Bone Shards, a shotgunlike spread of many chicken bones, or a very large bone indeed in powered-up mode. The ultimate Necro weapon however is a souped-up Staff Of Set, which fires a rotating shuriken through a level dicing everything in its path. Finally, the Paladin comes with a set of close combat armaments, starting with metal Gauntlets ('all the better to fist you with'), a sword (fiery if powered up), a two-handed axe, and then ultimately, a DragonStaff capable of firing diamond-like projectiles (nailgun-like), or, in special mode, a huge dragon-shaped fireball. Hmmmmm. Fireballs.
Underlying all these outlandish weaponry and Quake-style fireworks is a thick vein of RPG-ity. Each character is endowed with an experience rating, graded in levels a la Dungeons ft Dragons. As a player sails through levels, merrily chopping up monsters, not succumbing to traps, and finding all sorts of power-ups, their experience level increases. On the back of this, running speed will increase.
Hit points will swell. Genitals may get bigger. Jumps will become higher. And special skills will emerge, particular to each character class.
When a-n inexperienced Necromancer kills an opponent, for instance, a 'soul sphere' appears and slowly fades away. A quick Nee' can nip in and pick this orb up, gaining mana and health. Sometimes, randomly, a monster may be raised from the dead from its soul sphere, and used zombie-like V against opponents, even in Oeathmatch, Fins. higher level Necros may emanate Cause Fear 'rays', making the more rubbish creatures run away.
Assassins can hide in the shadows and become invisible. Paladins can enter a strange purgatory if they are ciose to death, where a strange 'Avenge' mode takes over and allows them a burst of strength to finish off an W opponent. The Cleric can be protected against poison, find traps and secrets, and be rescued from death by Divine Intervention. All these effects happen randomly based on chance (a roll of the virtual 88-sided die, you could say) with modifiers such as experience affecting the result.
Or rather, to use their correct Tolkien-esque moniker, 'artefacts'. Using an inventory system not dissimilar to Duke Nukem's, Hexen II allows a player to use to collect, horde, and then use all mana (Har-de-har - Ed) of objects and power-ups. Some work, generally across character classes, others affect different classes differently.
On a basic level, you get stuff like torches, portable health and mana globules (rather like the Nukem Medikit), and super health. More interestingly, there's stuff like the Tome Of Power, a magic book no less, which will soup-up ail your weapons, conjure a monster to do your bidding, create land mines, increase haste for accelerated running, and polymorph with the Hexen II equivalent of the Porkelator (no news on which farmyard animal it will turn its victim into). Another cool-sounding power-up is Mirror Image, which creates a computer-controlled done which will run around a level, distracting your enemies. The Wings Of Wrath will also make a guest appearance, allowing players to smoothly navigate the more aerial elements of each map.
Monstie-wise, you get what you expect with Hexen 2. Ravensoft have always specialised in more troll-packed escapades (Dark Crypt, Shadow Caster, Hexen, Heretic - see a pattern?). Many of the enemies in number two are directly pilfered from Hexen one, only of course this time, they're fully polygonal 3D and look fantastic. We'll just list them here, because, quite frankly, they're self-explanatory. You got: Imps, ice and fire; Golems, made of rivets, brass, or stone; Skull Wizards, floating mages which summon spiders and scorpions who, in turn, can climb walls and ceilings and poison you; Bile-spitting Hydra lurk underwater; Medusas and mummies.
There are plans for three distinctive areas in Hexen 2: medieval, Egyptian and Roman. The medieval section is decked out in Tudor panelled villages, windmills, cathedrals, graveyards, subterranean catacombs, and various 'real-life' touches. The Egyptian and Roman areas are reasonably predictable - the screenshots say it all. Again, though, Ravensoft are planning a hub-based level system. Unlike Quake, where you go from level to level, in Hexerr 2, you'll be able to return to a central level or hub, and then revisit the old or explore the new. This makes for some interesting multi-level conundrums, as well as an increased non-linear RPG feel to the whole game. Yah?
Basically, as we said at the beginning, we're pretty freaking excited about this look to say the least. It looks fabulouso, and new enhancements to the Quake engine should ensure that it circumvents problems and builds on the advantages of the engine. Deathmatch, too, should be much improved over tfexen's rather poor effort. Ravensoft are hoping to include all manner of Capture The Flag and King Of The Castle options, as well as some more original ways of working the character experience system into wholesale office flogathons.
Key-press lovers and the Anne Boleyns among us will welcome the addition of crouching (at last), as well as pushing, pulling, the dropping of specific objects in backpacks, and woooooooo - rain effects for us to drown out. Since Ravensoft are using the latest version of the Quake engine, you can also expect the game to be fully compliant with 3Dfx accelerator cards and perhaps even Direct3D enhancements.
Download Hexen II
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Hexen II Screenshots and Media
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