"Heroes follows a very familiar formula..."
Heroes follows a very familiar formula: four different races of four different classes come together to destroy an old evil. The heroes must go through a number of dungeons and trials to retrieve magical items in order to reach their wicked adversary, and they are able to collect a ton of loot such as armor and potions all along the way. They will fend off a horde of every sort of enemy from skeletons to giants, and they must work together to survive. That is literally the premise of Heroes in a nutshell. Notwithstanding the cookie-cutter plot, the game is a pure hack-n-slash game that is in the same spirit as Gauntlet or other games in its genre. The game boasts a number of generic classes (i.e. fighter, cleric, mage), each with their own specializations, strengths, and weaknesses. The characters each have different encumbrance quotients, meaning how much they can carry before not being able to pick up anything else, but thankfully things can be dropped easily or sold. Now speaking from the perspective of a fan of dungeon crawlers such as Diablo and Dungeon Siege, this game is still enjoyable despite its unremarkable plot and gameplay. The one thing, however, that may not be quite so fun is the ability to play all alone. The player who chooses to play lone wolf will find a more difficult path, and this is so even on the easiest difficulty. The good thing about playing alone is not having to share the loads of loot and being able to move at your own pace. The bad thing is you are all alone; you have no support from map to map and nobody to assist you during boss battles. Unless you are a glutton for punishment or using cheats, you will probably want to find some friends who would be interested in playing with you. This fact seems exacerbated due to the "better played together" text that is actually on the game CD. The way it makes clear that fact does not bode well for players seeking some enjoyable single player action. Combat is simplistic with the A button being the only combo button available. By pressing the A button several consecutive times your hero will string together a basic combo that you will use time after time after time after time. Thankfully, there are additional abilities which are learned and enhanced through leveling. These abilities can be set to either X or Y by pressing R (which slows down time until released) and setting them accordingly. These abilities vary from class to class naturally, with some being melee-oriented while others are AoE or ranged. A third button can be mapped to throw/use projectiles like knives and combat potions. And of course there is a button for blocking as well. Once you are happy with how the buttons are mapped, you return to combat and press the corresponding button to use the set ability. These combos give the combat some nice variety. Each class has a number of abilities that can be changed to something different within seconds even during the heat of combat. Also the white and black buttons are set automatically for the use of health and will potions if the hero has some in inventory. The inventory system is also very standard, featuring a section for weapons and armor, another section for potions and the like, and a few other sections for stats and quests. They are simple to navigate and scroll through. Actual gameplay aside, Heroes' plot is pretty weak, beginning in catacombs where your character was resurrected from the dead to fight the evil one. Yes, it is a little on the cheesy side, but it fits the bill according to what a game like this would involve. After you begin you can either take a tutorial or get right into hacking and slashing your path through enemies to your goal. In a true dungeon crawler fashion, you will be collecting loot and slaying countless enemies. It is a tried-and-true formula that is weather-beaten but wholly unremarkable compared to other titles in the genre.
The game sports a large, multi-faceted world filled to the brim with all sorts of beasts and environmental hazards, but a stigma that seems to plague this game would be the unremarkable manner in which it has been rendered. Everything seems to look a little obsolete, especially in terms of the relatively sparse environments with the exception of one or two. They look bland and almost archaic to a degree, but thankfully this can be ignored. Levels are loaded with crates and other similar breakable containers along with the obvious hazards that accompany them: enemies are just about everywhere you go, but this is a positive thing. You usually can stop fighting after clearing a room before advancing into the next area so you can rest and heal up, though sometimes a few may spill over before giving you a pause in combat. And aside from the omnipresent enemies that populate each level there are additional, environmental hazards to consider also. Some levels employ simple traps, nothing that a cautious adventurer could not easily avoid or evade, but later ones boasts elaborate traps that require precise timing and patience. These traps could hardly be considered "puzzles" because they are not tough to traverse; all you need really is patience. The enemies you will be facing come in different forms but most are recycled throughout a single given region. Basically one region contains mostly one kind of enemy with a couple variations, with the exception of any bosses. Combat visuals can be bland during regular melee combat with a sword or axe, but magic combat is much better looking. The splashes of color and fluidity from spells are nicely done. The game even features a few cut scenes from time to time, and they are very well done. Overall Heroes' graphics are mediocre at best.
Sound is another facet of Heroes that falls into the "unremarkable" category. Featuring more of a cookie-cutter set of sound effects, nothing here is outstanding. The "clang" of the sword or the "whump" of the hammer are hardly noteworthy. Everything else comes from the basic barrel of generic sounds. There is some voice work present in-game and naturally during cut scenes, and this too is nothing special. The sounds in this game are very generic and noting exceptional.
D&D Heroes can be a very fun and entertaining experience but it certainly has its drawbacks. The fact that the game depends heavily on more than one person playing this game makes it a dubious choice for the casual hack-n-slash fan. Those who are rabid fans of dungeon crawling and multi-player adventuring would likely find more playability and more appeal in this title. However, I am not saying a person playing single player would not enjoy it. It is very fun playing all alone, but cheats might be necessary because it does get tough later on. Heroes is a generic game that does nothing new that its predecessors like Gauntlet and Diablo have done (and done better). Ultimately, the game is long and fun and will likely provide you, or you and your friends, a few hours of decent hack-n-slash entertainment.