The Heretic Fantasy Continues
By Daniel Madar
OK, I admit it: I love to kill things--that's why I like Hexen. Not only do I get to kill things, I get to kill lots of them, and I get to do it in new and interesting ways. Not only can I turn my enemies to ice, I can also fry 'em, tear 'em apart with spirits, chop 'em up, and even transform them into little piggies. Oh, the fun of it all!
Distributed by GT Interactive, Hexen is the latest production from Raven Software using an engine licensed from id Software (creator of Doom), and it lives up to Raven's previous standards of gore. The designers have taken game play a step further by allowing players to choose from one of three classes of characters: warrior, cleric, or mage. Each class has its own strengths, weaknesses, and--above all--weapons. Depending on which class you pick, your strategy must adjust for speed, range of weapons, and armor. Clerics have access to Wraithverge, a must-see weapon that summons spirits to rend your foes limb from flying limb.
Breaking away from the linear progression of levels, you proceed from hubs, each broken down into a series of levels that must be cleared. Within levels, the play environment runs the gamut from lava pits to fog-filled swamps to icy caves. The environments keep the game interesting. Even if you're not actively killing things, you can marvel at the landscape.
Each level is filled with plenty of levers to pull, items to find, and hidden chambers to discover, all of which eventually help to unlock the secret of the hub itself, allowing further travel. Unfortunately, these puzzles aren't terribly challenging and tend to require a lot of repetitious wandering from level to level. But since your foes regenerate when you least expect it, you won't be bored for long.
Hexen's game engine is essentially identical to that of its predecessor, Heretic, with a few innovations. You can look up and down, strafe, jump, and even fly, but Hexen lacks features that other engines now allow, such as ducking and peeking around corners.
Should you feel the urge to blast the daylights out of your coworkers, Hexen offers modem and network play for as many as four Macs using TCP, AppleTalk, and MacIPX protocols. You can even take out your aggressions on your Windows-equipped colleagues: Hexen's multiplayer mode is cross-platform capable.
The Last Word
Hexen is another strong showing from Raven. Its action-packed game play allows you a number of possible ways to kick butt, despite the limitations of its engine and the simplistic nature of its puzzles.
RATING: Three Stars/6.9
PROS: Realistic violence; interesting new levels and choice of character types.
CONS: Static puzzles; linear and simplistic story line; engine doesn't offer as much flexibility as competitors'.
COMPANY: GT Interactive (212/726-6500, http://www.gtinteractive.com).
COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $54.95.
Copyright © 1996 Macworld Communications, Inc.