At an Infogrames press event today, we got to check out a 60-percent-complete build of the Xbox version of Dungeons & Dragons Heroes, the action RPG also destined for release on the GameCube in Q1 2003. The game plays a lot like a more complex version of Gauntlet--including four-player support--but despite the fact that it makes full use of the D&D 3rd Edition rules, there's no reason why players new to the D&D universe won't be able to pick it up and play along with hard-core fans.
Upon starting the game, you get to choose to play as either a fighter, cleric, rogue, or wizard character. At the outset you will have access to only two basic moves determined by your choice of character, but each time that character gains an experience level by killing a certain number of enemies, you will get to choose a new skill. There are around 40 different combat moves for each character, plus a selection of special abilities. At any one time you can have your own choice of moves mapped onto three of the face buttons, and these are easily changed, midbattle if necessary, simply by holding down the left trigger button and using the directional pad.
As you progress through the game you'll collect up to five planar gems. One of the five is being kept a secret at this time, but the other four that we got to see today can imbue weapons with powers of air, ice, fire, and earth. Certain gems will make weapons and any move performed with them more effective against enemies of a certain type. So, for example, a move performed against a fire-breathing dragon will be much more effective if used in tandem with the ice gem instead of the fire gem, which in this instance would actually see your attacks restoring health to the enemy rather than draining it. The gem we made the most use of at today's demonstration was actually the air gem, which often has the effect of tossing enemies away as if they've been hit by a whirlwind when they're struck.
A great feature of D&D Heroes is that players who save their characters onto a memory card will be able to jump into games with friends, so any time spent playing solo to build up characters and learn new skills is sure to pay off once a group of players gets together. D&D Heroes is due for release on the Xbox and GameCube early in 2003, for more information take a look at our