Heretic II (Windows)

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Written by  :  ShadowShrike (309)
Written on  :  Jan 28, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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A fast-paced action/adventure title with excellent graphics!

The Good

Heretic II, unlike the games before it, is an action/adventure. Defiantly. This sets it apart from the previous games in the series, which were merely First Person Shooters with some adventure elements (although perhaps Hexen II was a little bit more).

Heretic II takes place in a high fantasy world. The action begins immediately as Our Hero realizes there is something wrong in his home town that he has just returned to.

The game uses two types of weapons-- Spells and Weapons. Spells take Green Mana, and weapons take their specific type of ammo. All of these weapons are very well designed with great particle effects, and they each have unique strategies. Phoenix Arrows are devastating, but they can blow you up as easily as your enemy, while Sphere of Annihilation spells aren't as powerful, but don't hurt you.

There is also a smattering of defensive magics at your disposal, which use The Other White-- er, I mean Blue Mana. They aren't as useful, but they are fun and come in handy when a real big fight comes up.

Also at your hero's disposal is a kind of polearm. The fighting with this is really well done and it melds well with the fast action of the game. As the game advances, you will make your polearm more powerful, making it more useful then even some pretty deadly magics and weapons.

Not a single one of these spells and weapons was a disappointment; not only was the selection larger then in most a/a games, but they were simply better. This was very impressive.

Another high point is the animation. In most games, characters will switch clumsily from one animation to the other, making it look very crude. Not so with Heretic II. All animations blend almost seamlessly into each other, and great detail has been put into them. If you are standing on a narrow ledge, one of your feet might realistically dangle off the side.

The 3d models themselves are well made, especially given when the title was made. The game suffers from 'pixel swimming', but other then that the graphics would have fit in in a game made many years later.

The storyline is mediocre, but that's not the primary thing that drives the game. There is also none of the hub-action that made Hexen II fun-- well, there is [i]one[/i] hub that you use for [i]one[/i] adventure, but that's it. This means puzzles are a whole lot easier to solve.

The AI is brilliant. I wish action games of today has this quality AI. The early foes are stupid and weak, but that is on purpose; later in the game, you'll meet enemies who can 'phase' to teleport anywhere around you, throw knives at your back, and disappear the moment you throw stuff at them. Each new enemy takes a new tactic to beat! One of the harder ones were large green reptilian birds that would line themselves up for a swooping attack out of the sky, and then fly straight down at you for the kill. If they did kill you, they'd take your head away with them when they flew off! Touches like this make the game really great.

Later on, the game gets very hard to beat, but I have finished it at the hardest difficulty level (and I'm not too good at these games), so it's certainly possible. The bosses you fight are great, and each one has totally different powers. One, for example, can radiate light beams that hurt you if you are exposed to them, while another shoots out glowing darts that hunt you down. Each boss is a real challenge the first time.

The Bad

The voice acting felt a bit weak at some parts, although it was okay at most.

The puzzles were a disappointment-- they were even easier then in Hexen II. Every one was 'go here, get this, come back and go to the next level'.

The pixel swimming was nasty and really subtracted from the overall effect.

The Bottom Line

Heretic II is, in this gamer's opinion, one of the best action/adventure titles ever made. It is easy for beginners to get into, and has a large and well balanced selection of weapons, is a good length-- not too long or short. There is plenty of gore for gore fans and plenty of plot for plot fans (I like both!). Highly recommended!