Play this game with updated UQE 2006 graphics!!!
For those who played Hexen 2 - if you have a CD or have a chance to get Hexen 2 by any other ways these days, update your game with the new UQE and experience an old school classic game once more, but this time with a new look! So if you feel any nostalgia for this game, it's a great chance to relive it again, especially knowing that you can do this together with a friend in a coop mode.
For those who wonder is it worth to play Hexen 2 for the first time in this age of Crysis & Battlefield games, consider the fact that the gaming market these days rarely sees any games released that have this type of gameplay - extremely fast paced, build around ancient mythological times, filled with lots of visual gore and slaughter, combine elements of fantasy role playing games with old school Quake action and featuring cooperative.
First of all, Hexen 2 is a game for those, who like fantasy style themes most, where story takes place in ancient settings with genuine level design, filled with classic creatures like golems, flying imps, mummies, gorgonas and necromantic wizards, and featuring classic weapons like sicles, gauntlets, maces, swords and of course lots of spells and enhancements.
Second thing, Hexen 2 is definitely for those who like fast paced gameplay, who like to move fast, do lots of trickjumps and crazy maneuvers - with that said, of course, you can play this game slow and steady and try to move like in the original Hexen, but this formula just does not work for me..
Third point is that Hexen 2 will please any gamer looking for a game to solve lots of difficult puzzles, and Hexen 2, arguably, has the hardest puzzles known to a shooter game. Unfortunately some of the difficulty involved in puzzles comes from the fact, that those puzzles are buggy, although that is the case with just some of them.
I think the last case is, that any player who likes non-linear gameplay will like Hexen 2, since it features a hub level system, where you can go where you want, and return back to places when you want. The game has lots of backtracking elements, so Hexen 2 players should expect to visit the same places even after progressing through the game.
Now let's talk about Hexen 2 more generally...
The story continues from previous Hexen/Heretic games in a sense that once more you have to face one of the serpent riders and do the same things as before - clean the territories from their demonic invaders. Story is the least important thing in Hexen 2...
This time you have 4 classes of heroes to choose from, so great replay ability value exists once again. The heroes are Paladin, Crusader, Assassin and Necromancer. Certainly each class feels different and so a gamer might choose it's favorite. Any hero will carry 4 primary weapons, which require mana instead of ammo in order to work. Only the first weapons, that you get as soon as you start the game, do not require any mana. More powerful weapons you will pick up later in the game. The last and most powerful weapon will have to be binded from 2 separate parts. Of course each of the 4 weapons in each hero class is different. Additionaly you will find many other icons and objects to use besides weapons - like spells to increase speed, gain invisibility, immunity, teleport, repulse monsters, turn monsters to sheeps, or summon friendly demons to fight; you will find many different vials to replenish your health and mana, rings to fly, breathe in water, regenerate health or reflect damage - heroes use all of these mentioned icons the same way, but there are some icons in the game, those work different in each class - you will have to find out yourself what are those. The most impressive icon in the game is the tome of power - an icon that looks like a book, and when used, it upgrades any weapon you want to use with new staggering effects. So if you feel that 4 weapons are not enough, than think again, when each of them in enhanced with a tome of power and now acts in a different way. Having that in mind, there are 16 weapons to power-up per all classes.
Hexen 2 incorporates elements of RPG. You gain experience while killing your foes. This is such a nice feature in the game that really makes Hexen 2 somehow a rare example of it's gaming kind. By gaining experience you level-up, like in any RPG, and with leveling up you gain more health and mana.
Unfortunately you main statistics - strength, dexterity, intelligence and wisdom do not increase while leveling up, so before you start a new game, carefully select main statistic values for each hero, because those will stay that way. For example if you start with a Crusader class, you really should check that the computer awards him with a wisdom level of 18, because wisdom is most important for him, otherwise it is better if you restart again until you get the max wisdom. For other classes other statistics are important coherently - strength for Paladin, intelligence for Necromancer and dexterity for Assassin.. The max level you can get in any statistic is 18, so for Crusader, if you get 18 points in wisdom, than his other stats will be lower, and if you get 16 points in wisdom, than his other stats will be a bit higher too. That's a nice feature to choose from the very beginning. So you can build a very fast Assassin for fast and stealthy gameplay or a very strong Paladin for brawling type of gameplay. Since each class has to have it's most important statistic as max is it can be, there will be always the least important statistic, which should be low. For example the Necromancer is very low on strength, but that is ok, since he mostly uses range spells and should not go melee. Paladin is low on intelligence, but that is also ok, as intelligence determines mana quantity, and Paladin does not need mana for his second weapon in order to work - this is not the case with other heroes.
Any hero leveling up beyond the 3 level gets a feat - for example Paladin can breathe in the water.. Once any hero gains level 6, he gets another feat, but that is where it all ends - no more feats.. 2 max for each hero.
All in all there is a great balance in all heroes..
Whichever hero you may choose, you will have to travel through 5 distinctive chapters - Medieval Blackmarsh, Mesoamerican Mazaera, Egyptian Thysis, Greco-Roman Septimus and once again through Medieval Blackmarsh. Like said, each of these chapters contains many levels, which are connected together in a hub system and each level can be played either slow, with maximum exploration and killing all the monsters in it, or either really fast, since you don't have to kill all the monsters in order to progress. However what you need to do almost in every level is to solve puzzles. I already mentioned that this part can be very hard, but let's be more specific - for example there is a puzzle in Thysis, where you have to walk a certain path 3 times in a row, to unlock the gates. There is a clue in another level telling how to walk, but it does not work - sometimes you unlock the puzzle accidentally or spend a whole day doing the right path with no luck... Some puzzles don't have enough clues written about them or you just miss those clues too often..
This can be the most frustrating part in the whole game.
You can select 4 difficulty levels to play and the best thing about it that increasing difficulty levels results in the increase of the monster count and depletion of items and icons in the levels. So this is so different from all the other games where increasing difficulty just results in greater damage. So playing Hexen 2 on the hardest difficulty setting can be very fun if you like to see lots of monsters in every corner. Increasing difficulty also results in harder puzzles - that can be tricky...
Hexen 2, released in 1997, had the best monster animations to be seen in a game. While the graphics in the game look really outstanding, it is the visual awesomeness of the monsters that really leaves a good impression. All of the monsters look good as well as move realistically. It's an amazing feat, because the later released Quake 2 certainly was not strong to compete it that criteria. When you see a colossal stone golem for the first time, you expect it to move heavy, with sluggish moves, shaking the ground - and all those expectations are awarded 100 %. Or when you see a spider, you should expect it to move as much realistic as real spiders move, and it pays off - spiders really move like in reality - a pattern of several short and fast gaits, extended first pair or legs for attack position and fast jumps towards you! One could not ask fore more. Even in these days game developers fail to deliver such precision. The AI of the monsters is quite good - some are cautious and don't rush towards you blindly, but wait for the right moment to attack, some try to evade your range attacks, by ducking, rolling, side-stepping or simply moving away from your income. Also the monsters have lots of secondary attacks to caught you unprepared.. The most interesting battles occur when you summon an allied demon in front of a big enemy group and see the epic slaughter. Alas the monsters sometimes will fight even each other if one of them hits another by an error, and then the other returns fire.. As mentioned, every game chapter features genuine monsters. For example you will only find mummies in Thysis, and Jaguars only in Mazaera. Some monsters like spiders are common everywhere. From ordinary monsters we move to bosses - in the end of each chapter a rider of doom awaits you and guarantees and interesting and challenging fight. The last boss, Eidolon - the third serpent rider, is the biggest and most powerful foe in the game, but somehow feels a bit underpowered, because when he turns into a 20 meter high giant, he becomes slow and predictable and there is not much of a challenge left then..
I could not say that Hexen 2 has either a good soundtrack or in game sounds - nothing is wrong, but it does not live up to the graphics and animation.
Gamespot says that Hexen 2 fails to knock out the king (Quake) off his throne - that only can be true when spoken about multiplayer, because Hexen 2 is not really a competitive game, despite the fact, that is actually faster than Quake due to the special abilities of heroes and artifacts like boots of speed.
Hexen 2 multilayer is extremely fun - it's all about tossing spells and artifacts at each other with the pace like in Quakeworld and the carnage level is even bigger, but all this is meant for those players who just don't take gaming seriously and want more eye candy over balance. Other than that, Hexen 2 is supreme to Quake in every aspect.
The final word is, despite game bugs, annoying puzzles and unbalanced multiplayer, Hexen 2 is a masterpiece, because it took single player gaming to the next level, next standarts.