Wizards & Warriors suffers from a handful of problems that compromise an otherwise solid role-playing game.
Activision's Wizards & Warriors is a first-person 3D role-playing game designed by D.W. Bradley, who helped create the fifth, sixth, and seventh episodes of the classic Wizardry role-playing series. According to Bradley, Wizards & Warriors is intended to be something of a return to such involving, addictive first-person role-playing games, and in that regard, it succeeds for the most part. Like many role-playing games before it, Wizards & Warriors lets you create a party of adventurers of different character classes and races and explore vast overland areas and dank dungeons in search of fearsome monsters, powerful weapons and items, and experience levels. Unfortunately, Wizards & Warriors suffers from a handful of problems that compromise an otherwise solid game.
The game itself is a 3D role-playing game played entirely from a first-person perspective. You can create a party of up to six different adventurers by choosing from ten different races and four basic character classes. These ten different races include stock fantasy races, like elves and dwarves, but also a number of completely original races, like the reptilian lizzords, the elephantine oomphaz, and the furry ratlings. Each race is interesting enough, and nearly every one has a distinctive special ability and a predisposition toward a specific character class; these traits and abilities will let you build a strong and balanced war party from the ground up.
Wizards & Warriors was four long years in the making, and unfortunately, it shows. The game offers two graphics settings: Direct3D acceleration and software rendering. Wizards & Warriors' Direct3D performance with certain video cards (especially TNT and GeForce cards) is problematic; in such cases, the graphics and text become blurry and unclear. The only other option is to run in software mode at 640x480 resolution; the display becomes clearer but unflatteringly blocky and pixilated. And unfortunately, most of the game's graphics are indeed this pixilated - the various dungeons and open areas you explore, the special effects on magic spells, and the monsters you face all tend to look blocky and coarse.
Wizards & Warriors doesn't sound especially impressive either. For the most part, the game's music is ambient but otherwise unremarkable and largely inoffensive. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for much of the game's prerecorded speech. Though you'll likely appreciate the articulate narrator's informative descriptions of significant locations as you find them, you'll just as likely come to dread speaking with many of the game's long-winded nonplayer characters. A few of these characters' lines are actually delivered convincingly, while others are clearly overdone - but regardless of the quality of each nonplayer characters' voice-over, most of these characters tend to drone on and on about the inane or the obvious. They'll often talk about subjects that aren't even pertinent to your characters' quest. Throughout the course of the game, you'll need to speak to many such characters and engage in conversations that will seem to last more than a little too long.
But the most disappointing thing about Wizards & Warriors is its clumsy and unintuitive interface. The game is almost entirely mouse-driven; you manipulate each of its many menus by pointing and clicking, and you use the mouse for both freelook and forward movement. While this may sound convenient, the game suffers from a lack of even the simplest keyboard shortcuts; you won't even be able to use the Escape key to exit from any of the game's many option menus. Instead, you'll have to make sure to carefully click on the correct icon to open or close the right menu; otherwise, nothing will happen, or worse, you'll end up opening a completely unrelated menu that you'll also have to close.