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Reviewed: Nox
Author: Chris Kim       Date: March 12th 2000
Page: 3

Unlike most other games in the same genre, Nox does not use a random dungeon and overworld generator. Rather, the game has individually designed levels that each of the designers put time to make. This does restrict the single player campaign significantly, but each of the campaigns is so well designed that it is forgivable. It is obvious that the designers took a lot of time and thought into creating these dungeons as they have a well-designated path that is easy to find and follow. Players will usually find themselves easily understanding and following the flow of the game rather than being surprised by what they encounter. Each of the campaigns seems to integrate into the rest of the world of Nox and match the personalities of each character perfectly. Each individual campaign has its own unique storyline and locations it takes place in. While there is some overlapping in areas of the game, it remains interesting enough to play through these lapses.

The AI and difficulty level accomplishes the task of making the game fun and enjoyable. Most enemies will be smart enough to work together in groups and protect each other. Other enemies can accomplish various tasks they need to attack the player, and will pursue a fleeing character, but retain enough intelligence to make themselves scarce if they lose enough life. One slight flaw is that usually the player will be able to identify the enemy much sooner than the enemy will the player. On the difficulty side of things, each single player game is divided into a ten-chapter game, making for a decent single player game. The campaigns are a little short, however. There are no difficulty levels, which some may see as an oversight, however the pace of the game flows very nicely, so much so that most gamers will not notice the lack of difficulty settings.

Attack the Evil Skeleton
Hand Trap
Skeleton Bashing Time

Multiplayer gaming is also a very important aspect of Nox. Because of the unique TrueSight system, the approach to the multiplayer game is similar to how a first person shooter game would be approached. There are several game modes, arena, capture the flag, flagball, and other games that are so much fun to play. Arena, as expected is pretty much a deathmatch type game where players will just go head to head to kill each other. Capture the flag is just like it is in any other game, get the flag, return to your side. Then there is flagball, which is very similar to the capture the flag game in where players must attack the flag, but there is a ball that must be thrown at the flag to score. These are games modes unique to the action role-playing genre, and add some extra flair to the multiplayer portion of the game that should keep almost all gamers interested for a while. The only oversight in the multiplayer portion of the game is the lack of cooperative play, which some may see as a huge flaw, but the rest of the game is so great most gamers should be able to overlook it.

Nothing is more important than being able to control the character well in an action game; thankfully the interface and controls are very well laid out and configured. All the default controls call for a keyboard/mouse combination with the mouse being the dominant control device. Like Darkstone, which streamlined and improved on the already great Diablo interface, Nox incorporates many improvements that helps the player have a smoother transition into the world of Nox. All of the movement and attacking is accomplished through the mouse, with the right button for movement and the left button for all actions. This may seem a bit awkward at first, but after playing with it for a while, it becomes apparent that this control scheme is more effective than the point and click scheme in other action role-playing games. Everything else from inventory and spell/skill management is very simple. The simplified interface allows for auto equipping of inventory items if a certain piece of armor/weapon is better than the one currently equipped. The shortcuts for spells and items are automatically configured by a simple drag of the icon on the corresponding hotkey.

Treasure Palace
Entering Enemy Grounds
Bow Shooting

At first glance, Nox's graphics engine could be passed off as poor looking and performing, but closer examination will reveal that the engine is really quite good-looking. The perspective is slightly higher than the one found in Diablo, but still the graphics are very clean and well designed. All of the textures from the dirt ground to the construction of the buildings are very sharp and detailed. None of the textures seem to be misplaced or incorrectly mapped. On the side of the animations and character sprites, all of them look and move extremely smoothly. The smaller sprites, despite their size, still look excellent. All of the items, such as swords and capes are easily identifiable. The wide range of colors used to detail and fill the screen is wisely chosen, and the blend of the colors gives the game a very realistic feeling, while the environment sucks the player into the game. Other great effects are the light sourcing and lighting effects. They are simply astounding and look so amazing. It was a wonder to see that the game wasn't 3D-Accelerated.

On the technical side of things, Nox is a very large performance hog and may require users with slower systems to turn down many of the effects that makes the game look so great. The game supports from 640x480 up to 1024x768 resolutions, but being a sprite based 2D game, the game doesn't scale the graphics on the higher resolutions; the game just stretches the screen and displays more of the map at one time. Upping the size of the screen requires significantly more horsepower, but the results give off a cleaner looking design.

Ahh, We've Lost
On the Brink of Hell
Body Guards

The rest of the game receives a lot of praise for the great features, and the sound a music live up to the same standards. Each of the sound effects and ambient noises in the game makes special use of the stereo panning to great effect. The sound effect of clanging and clashing is done to an appropriate effect, while it does seem to get a little repetitive. While no 3D APIs are used, the sound engine takes advantage of all the sounds to create a very deep environment that sucks the player into the game. Ambient noises are very well done, and enhance the players immersion into the game. The voice acting of the characters in the game, staying on par with Westwood's other games, is excellent. Musically, the game is a step above the lackluster soundtrack in the previous Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun game, which was a step down from the great soundtrack in Command and Conquer: Red Alert. The beautifully orchestrated pieces are a pleasure to listen to and never get repetitive.

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Added:  Sunday, March 12, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 3/5

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