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Nox (Windows)

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Written by  :  Chris Martin (1204)
Written on  :  Apr 30, 2001
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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I could put a "Nox" pun here (i.e. Nox on wood), but the game is too good for that....

The Good

I like Diablo. I'm not a HUGE fan, but for its time it was great. Nox takes what made Diablo great (the 3/4 top-down Isometric view), and incorporated a fantastic (although linear) storyline, great graphics, beautiful music, and an addicitive quality that keeps me up at night.

I'll say this right off the bat - Not many games hook me from the beginning of the game. Only three (Starflight, RollerCoaster Tycoon, and X-Wing) have hooked me from the beginning. Nox - right from the opening cinematics - is cool. Sure the game's premises is hokey. You are Jack Mower, a 20th century "good ol' boy" that is sucked into the world of Nox - via his TV set - and sets off to save the world from Hecubah (kooky name, but the opening cinema is so funny, you'll laugh).

You start off the game choosing a "profession", either a Warrior (skilled in weapons and armor), a Wizard (although weak, has a multitude fo spells and the ability to lay traps), or a Conjurer (having the ability to charm and/or summon monster and creatures to help him). Each profession has a separate game to play, with 11 chapters per profession (for a total of 33 levels). Unlike Diablo, Nox's dungeons and locales are all set in stone. The reason behind it is the fact that Westwood wanted to have a storyline behind what you were supposed to do while in Nox. Having the sceneries and dungeons change each time you play would be near impossible to program. So if you play the Warrior mode all the way through, and replay it, you'll play the exact game.

The control system is fairly intuitive. You use the mouse to turn your character around, and the right mouse button to move. The further away the mouse is from your character, the faster he runs. The left mouse button is your attack button.

The graphics are much more colorful that Diablo. Since you are traversing through swamps, temples, villages, inns, and other locales, the graphics are clean and crisp. Spell effects are great. Especially when the priests in the Temple of Ix summon the stone golems. Another great feature is the inventory. The inventory is stored off screen, so you just hit "I" to bring it down onto the screen. Inventory manipulation is simple, and is also used in transactions.

The TrueSight technique is pretty cool. Depending on where you are you can only see what can naturally be seen. In other words you can't see behind walls or around corners, until you go behind the wall or around the corner. It makes for great twitch play at times (especially in a room full of beholders).

As a side note to the graphics, the automap is not (thank God) overlayed on top of the screen like in Diablo. The automap (although small) is neatly tucked on the left hand side of the screen, with a green dot representing where you are.

The sound is very nice. The ambient sounds and background music is nicely done, but not intruding.

But the gameplay is where it shines. You task (in each of the professions) is to defeat Heacubah by combining the Halbred of Horrendus, the Heart of Nox, and the Weirdling to create the weapon to defeat Hecubah. I hate to sound like a TV ad, but you have to play it to see how the gameplay really shines.

The Bad

It's addictive. Much more addictive than Diablo and Tetris combined. It's a great game with a lot going for it.

The Bottom Line

Westwood Studios did a great job with this one. They could have taken a "me-too" approach to this game and knocked off a half-rate Diablo Clone. But instead, Westwood took a genre and made it better. They made a great game without making it a rip-off. My congradulations to Westwood studios.

Bottom Line: A fantastic game worth playing. If you love Diablo or Diablo II, then you'll love Nox.