Even the most avid computer fantasy role-player may sometimes want to take a break from strategic combat and multi-character maintenance, and get back to the basics of hacking and slashing. Enter Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders, the quasi-sequel to id's smash hit, Heretic. In this first person 3-D shooter, you assume the role of a rebel whose sole desire is to drive the evil forces of the Abyss from your world. How do you achieve such a lofty goal? It's simple you bash, thrash, and burn every living (or undead) creature you encounter.
Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders' beautiful graphics truly immerse you in a brooding fantasy world. The game's numerous beastiesincluding Gargoyles, Undead Warriors, and Weredragonsare detailed and show few signs of the close-combat pixellization that is the bane of typical first-person adventures. The dramatic lighting effects are magnificent and add to each level's eerie ambiance. This title also boasts a wonderful soundtrack which, like any good score, truly complements the action. The music alone is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, even without the added stress of running from a Disciple of D'Sparil.
Even with all these strong features, perhaps the best element of Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders is its simplicity of gameplay. It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to learn how to competently control your explorer; experienced 3-D adventure gamers will be able to throw the manual out the window and jump right into the action.
Another goodie is the slick multi-player mode. Up to four players can link up for two different types of play: cooperative, in which players help each other destroy all the enemies on a level, or deathmatch, where players hunt each other with hideous weapons and destructive spells.
Although there are five scenarios to choose from, offering a variety of settings for players new to Heretic, only two of the episodes are truly original (the other three were in the original commercial version). This is not a major shortcoming; the game is still priced well below most other first perspective shooters and offers loads of fun for the money, especially for newbies.
Power up my Phoenix Rod, I'm on the trail of an Ophidian!