Nox First Impressions

Westwood's Nox will hit store shelves this March, but we've got hands-on impressions now.

Though we have only a few hours of play under our belts, one thing is clear about Westwood's Nox: It's a fun game. It's fair to say the game is extremely Diablo-like, but it's a far cry from a Diablo clone. Nox has it's own personality, and it plays very differently than Blizzard's popular action/role-playing game.

Nox features three character classes: warrior, wizard, and conjurer. Each class plays differently. The wizard uses typical magic spells, including magic missiles, fireballs, teleportation spells, and the like. The conjurer is somewhat of a hybrid between the warrior and the wizard. He has spells and can use weapons, but his spells tend to focus on conjuring and charming creatures. Though we're still only a few hours into the game, the conjurer's ability to charm hostile creatures and have them fight alongside him is one of the more-interesting features in the game. The warrior is a pure hand-to-hand combat class and has no magic abilities. Because the hand-to-hand combat in Nox is a bit strange (you move using the right mouse button and attack with the left, making attacking moving foes somewhat frustrating), the warrior has been the least appealing class of the lot so far. This may change as we get deeper into the game and the warrior gains some special abilities.

The variety of equipment in the game is impressive, right from the start. You can customize almost everything about your character's appearance, from the color of his hair down to his shoes. Strangely, though, you cannot change the gender or your character, and every class is male. As you accumulate new equipment, it shows up on your character in the game. You may find some blue medieval pants (that's really what they're called…), and then later pick up a green pair. Whichever you put on, the minor changes in appearance are reflected on your character.

Diversity seems to be a key element in Nox, and playing as the different classes makes for a very different game. The first few hours of the game are entirely different for each class, with different locations, different characters, and different quests. Westwood claims that this diversion continues throughout the whole game, and it will be interesting to see how much overlap there is for the three different classes.

The only significant problem with Nox so far is the game's true line of sight. While it makes for some interesting environments, the fact that almost everything around you is constantly dark makes it somewhat frustrating as you make your way back and forth through areas that you've already seen.

While the multiplayer games - variations on deathmatch and capture the flag- seem a bit lifeless so far, Nox's single-player game is very promising. Those of us who are playing it in the office are having fun, and it seems like the game will appeal to fans of Diablo's simplistic role-playing style. We'll have an in-depth review in the coming weeks.

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