Westwood Studios must be thanking its collective lucky stars right now. Blizzard Entertainment's "Diablo II", arguably the most anticipated PC game for the year 2000, has been pushed to a summer launch. Add to that a drought of quality titles since the holiday rush, and Westwood's Action-RPG release, NOX has a VERY convenient window of opportunity.
Westwood is best known for its Command & Conquer series, which, along with WarCraft, is considered to be one of the titles that broke the RTS genre wide-open. They've also produced several other popular titles, such as Dune 2000 and BladeRunner. NOX, however, will be their first shot at the Action-RPG genre.
The evil necromancess, Hecubah, is plotting the conquest of all of NOX, a realm not of our dimension. Decades earlier, her dark ancestors were defeated in a great war, their souls trapped in the Orb decorating an artifact known as the Staff of Oblivion. After the war, it was decided that the Orb, and the potent necromantic powers it now possessed, must be forever removed from NOX. The high mages used their combined arcane power to banish the orb to another dimension. It just so happens that it ended up on Earth, resting as an ornament upon the TV set of an unsuspecting Jack Mower. Using the black arts, Hecubah locates the Orb and creates a portal to summon it back to her lair, where she can use its power to raise and command legions of undead servants. As fate would have it, Jack and his TV get caught in the portal as well, and are thrown into the mystical world of NOX.
It is here that the humorous and well-scripted intro movie picks up the story. You take the role of Jack Mower, and must choose one of three classes for your journey: The Warrior, The Conjurer, or the Wizard (hrmmm
this sounds familiar). Although your personal objective is to find a way back to Jack's living room and girlfriend, you'll end up having to "save the world" along the way.
OK, so the story isn't exactly award-winning material, but we're not scoring the game on it's story here, are we? Here's the scoop on the three classes:
Warrior - The tank. He is the master of melee, with the most strength and speed. This allows him to wear the heaviest armors and wield the most powerful weapons. The Warrior cannot use any magic, but learns five skills during his journey through NOX. The most useful of these skills are the "War Cry", which renders spell-slingers unable to cast for a few seconds, and the Berserker Charge, which inflicts massive damage upon it's unfortunate target. For a ranged weapon, the Warrior uses various flavors of shurikens.
Conjurer - The hybrid. The Conjurer can't go toe-to-toe with a Warrior in melee, but he has magic to compliment his battle skills. In the same respect, a Wizard's spell casting is stronger than the Conjurer's, but the Conjurer is a better fighter. What really makes the Conjurer unique, however, is his ability to charm or summon creatures. Why fight that nasty Ogre when you can, instead, become its master? For distant targets, the Rogue... uhh... I mean Conjurer may also use a bow.
Wizard - The spell slinger. The Wizard eats, sleeps, lives, and dies by his magic. He may only use a staff for a weapon, and the closest thing he has to a ranged weapon is the fireball or lightning bolt that shoots from his staff. The Wizard is physically the weakest class, severely limiting the equipment he can wear and carry. However, since the Wizard has the most powerful spells at his command, he hasn't much need for such armor, as creatures rarely get close enough to attack.
So let's ask the meaty question: Has Westwood come through on their timely opportunity, or is NOX just another unworthy Diablo rip-off
87% - Let's get it on!
- Intel Pentium-II 400MHz
- 256MB PC-100 SDRAM
- 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 AGP
- Diamond Monster Sound MX300
- MS Windows98 2nd Edition
At 300 megabytes, the install is easily smaller than a majority of entertainment software on the shelves today. This is largely due to the fact that there are no true 3D graphics. While the files are copied to your hard drive, a narrative, complimented by a slide show, details the history of NOX. This at least keeps you somewhat distracted while you wait for the install to finish.
In the box you'll find three forms of documentation. The first is a handy reference guide that details the system requirements, the install process, troubleshooting tips, and tech support information. A convenient fold-up/stand-up quick reference chart displays the default keyboard setup and explains the in-game screen layouts. Finally, the main manual contains all the information you'd expect, including spell and skill descriptions, class restrictions for weapons and armor, and walkthroughs of the first level for each class. There is also a 2nd disc in the jewel case, known as the Companion Disc, which we'll explain later.
Game performance is excellent. Since there are no 3D graphics, there's no requirement for a 3d-accelerator, and thus no API issues. Some of you WinNT users out there might experience some heartache with initial load. There's also a consistent, 5-10 second slowdown/recovery period that commonly occurs after saving a game, but it's hardly a show stopper. Simply put, NOX is VERY clean and smooth, and doesn't require a monster system to enjoy.
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