Heretic 2 is for those who miss a great story in many of Ravensoftware single player games.
This time the story does not involve serpent riders, although your protagonist is the same Corvus from the original game. Yet Heretic 2 feels like a totally different game. There is no way you call it old school now.
You are seen i third person view and, despite using Quake 2 engine, the movement is drastically changed - there is no jumping like ''crazy'' formula and no strafes left and right, instead you simply sneak, walk or run. You can do, however, other difficult movement tricks like: roll sideways, roll forward, turn around in the air 360 degree forwards or backwards or do a side turn 360 degree as well as to multiple 360 degree non-stop turns while advancing forward or backward. More difficult tricks involve dodging from a wall while i the air or using a blade weapon to perform techniques like sniping or jumping across the objects using the blade as a ramp..
All in all Heretic II makes Lara Croft go to school to learn acrobatics.
Heretic 2 feels like a third person adventure game rather than a shooter.
There is not much shooting involved anyway, as your weapons are mainly magical kind. You have a single melee weapon, that is perfect for slashing chunks of bodies and allows for some cool acrobatics, then you have several magical crossbows, as well as the iconic Raven staff - a trademark weapon of Ravensoftware and you have lots of offensive and defensive spells. All the magical items you can collect in Heretic 2 are similar to those in Hexen 2, but often work differently. For example the tome of power does not fade away in Heretic 2 like it does in Hexen 2, it stays all the time as a memorable spell that simply uses mana in order to work. Heretic 2 has offensive and defensive mana while Hexen 2 has 2 types of offensive manas. So the main difference is that in Heretic 2 you can use defensive spells all the time as long as you have mana, while in Hexen 2 defensive spells were for single use.
Heretic 2 does not involve RPG elements like Hexen 2, and this is sad, because it would make more sense to have this feature in a game like Heretic 2 than Hexen 2 - i will never understand this strange decision by Ravengames.
With the increased difficulty level, the monsters in Heretic just deal more damage and there are less icons to get - i was hoping that Heretic 2 would use the same formula as in Hexen 2, where increasing difficulty results in increased quantity of the monsters - but no, the developers had to spoil that good idea and come back with a very generic formula.
Having this generic difficulty selection in mind, and having in mind, that there is only 1 character in Heretic 2 to play, when there are 4 characters in Hexen 2, you understand that Hexen 2 has alot more replay ability value.
The level design in Heretic 2 is one of the game's strong points - just like in previous Quake 2 and Hexen 2 games, the levels are divided into hubs, through those you can return back whenever you feel that you left something behind. You will travel through many interesting fantasy based levels, like towns, swamps, canyons, dungeons and keeps and in each of these levels you will face their genuine inhabitants. So the level design formula is just like in Hexen 2, although i have to say, that Heretic 2 levels look more detailed than those of Hexen 2.
The monster design and animations are also that of first class and non of them feels either out of shape or unpolished. Their movement looks smooth and for the most part realistic. Some look very colorful, like the reptilians or insects, while others look rather pale - like harpies and raptors. This creature texture scheme fits well according to where they live - for example the swamps themselves look pale, dirty and lifeless, so you would think that the inhabitants of such domain must use similar color schemes in order to adapt.
The variety of the monsters is appreciated and the bosses offer great challenge too. Every level in the end features it's boss, and it will sure feel totally different from the previous.
Heretic 2 does not have such annoying puzzles as Hexen 2, but instead there are parts in the game with some very hard traps and i have to say, that i encountered many bugs too. The most common bugs are: you get randomly stuck in objects, get killed too often by objects, because of the bad mechanics of those objects, those are made way too sensitive. Also i have noticed that the monsters in Heretic 2 quite often start fighting each other if you mix up in their way chaotically..
Cooperative play is present - might not make sense story wise, but is still an appreciated fact.
Multiplayer is all about having fun, just like in Hexen 2, and you would never realize that this is Quake 2 engine actually. The latest Heretic 2 enhancement pack 1.05 and the latest patch 1.06 make sure that multiplayer will suck you in with it's great cfg customization, lots of skins and great looking maps. It might not be a serious competitive game like Quake 2, but it is addressed for those who find Hexen 2 multiplayer too brutal and hard.
Heretic 2 has some improvements and some shortcomings when compared to Hexen 2 and these things equal each other to the point that both games are just equally great.