Gen Con 2002Dungeons & Dragons Heroes impressions

We take a look at this upcoming Xbox action RPG from Infogrames.

Infogrames was in attendance at this year's Gen Con convention with Dungeons & Dragons Heroes, its upcoming action role-playing game for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube consoles. Though we were able to see only the Xbox version in motion, what we saw was a good indication of what we can expect from all three consoles, since, according to Infogrames, the company plans to release the game on all three platforms at the same time, worldwide.

Dungeons & Dragons Heroes will be a fantasy-themed action RPG, much like last year's Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Players will be able to choose one of four character classes: fighter, cleric, mage, and thief, and up to four players will be able to play the game at the same time. Rather than splitting the screen, the game will zoom its camera view back if players get too far away from each other. In addition, Infogrames is making sure to add several other amenities to adapt the sometimes-complicated 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules to an action-packed console game. For instance, the rules' long list of character feats, which include damaging abilities like power attack, are all in the game as simple special attacks that can be mapped to one of three buttons. In addition, players won't begin their careers as weakling first-level characters, but rather, as powerful characters of 13th or 14th level, and their abilities will be appropriately enhanced. For instance, we watched the high-level version of the power attack feat in motion: the ability can actually be charged up (by pressing and holding down the button) to sweep all enemies in a large radius of effect.

In addition, players can choose rapid healing as an additional feat, or simply sit and wait for their characters to recover health and spent magic points, both of which regenerate quickly. What's more, the game has no real inventory system, so rather than fumbling with an open menu of lots of different items, characters can heal themselves and recover magic power simply by walking over potions. And rather than constantly buying new weapons and armor, players will instead be equipped with a single weapon, which can be upgraded with one of five magical gems that can add fire, ice, poison, air, and a fifth special attack that's being kept secret.

Dungeons and Dragons Heroes is currently only about 65% complete, so special effects like dynamic lighting currently aren't implemented. Nevertheless, this action role-playing game based on Wizards of the Coast's 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules seems like it should be a solid action RPG by the time it's released simultaneously on the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube in March of 2003.

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