PC RPG Game of the Year: The Runner Up Awards

Wizardry 8


Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord was the first computer RPG I ever bought. Now over twenty years later, Wizardry 8 marks the latest and probably final installment. Three items -- the Astral Dominae, the Destiny Dominus, and the Chaos Moliri -- must be combined to ascend at the Cosmic Circle and become god-like. Your party must stop the evil Dark Savant from reaching these artifacts, while keeping ahead of the T'Rang and Umpani that are also pursuing them. The Wizardry series has always mixed fantasy and science fiction, and Wizardry 8 is no exception, as the planet Dominus has spaceships, dwarves, androids, and fairies.

Biggest "Wow" Moment

We live for the rare moments that make you drop your jaw and say "Wow!". Even just one of those moments can make for hours and hours spent playing crap, so we relish them.

The biggest "wow moment" for a lot of this year was when we popped Dead or Alive 3 into the Xbox. No, it wasn't the magnificently bouncy fleshy bits that made us say wow (I believe our first reaction to that was "Dear God!"). It was, in fact, when we selected the snowstorm level and noticed that the characters' feet were actually deforming the snow as they stomped around in it. And when you knocked your opponent down, their body actually made an impression, like someone had made a snow angel - by repeatedly body slamming said angel into the snowy earth. We'd never seen anything like that before, and it was just so unexpected and cool.

You create all six characters in your party from eleven races and fifteen classes. Each character has several dozen skills, and they increase often by spending points or through use of the skill. The characters in your party have personality and will let you know how they are feeling with good voice acting. You play from the first-person perspective and explore the first 3D Wizardry, although the graphics are a bit dated. You will kill many monsters as you follow the expansive plot using a turn-based combat system. An optional continuous combat mode based on character speed and initiative may be used too. This single-player RPG is a great romp if you miss the good old RPGs done well.

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  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura


    What could be more peaceful than lazily floating across the sky in a zeppelin? Nothing, so you don't feel pity for the ogre that crashed his flying machine after bursting your balloon. Dazed you accept a ring from a dying gnome and permit Virgil the priest to follow you espousing that you are a god. Arcanum features a fantasy world set in the Industrial Age of the late 1800s. Technology and Magick are at odds. You determine how much you want to specialize in each with eighty spells, fifty-six technological degrees, and sixteen skills. Gun-wielding wizards and dwarves may apply. As some of the developers helped create Fallout, much emphasis has been put on character growth.


    Besides the large main quests, many of the side quests require moral decisions and people will treat you differently based on your race or abilities. When you can't get along, combat can be resolved in either real-time or turn-based, toggled with the space bar. While the graphics may sometimes be dull and washed out, the tiled nature of this 2D isometric world is great for those wanting to build their own scenarios with the World Editor. You even have the option of playing multiplayer with a few of your friends.

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  • Anachronox


    Anachronox -- funny name, funny game. Tom Hall brings us the humorous sci-fi adventures of Sylvester "Sly" Boots. Sly starts the game being beat up by the mob, as he owes them money. He soon finds himself at Whackmaster Jack's having to save the universe. The giant artificial planet of Anachronox is the central hub for his travels to many distant worlds. Like with console RPGs after which it is modeled, the excellent story sets this single-player RPG apart. Accompanying you are up to seven different non-player characters including a superhero and a grumpy old man. Excellent lip-syncing and voice-acting makes them come alive.


    A highly modified Quake II engine serves as the foundation for game, with the perspective being from the third-person. Combat follows turns regulated by a ready meter. Ranged or melee attacks, or movement can only be taken when the characters meter has charged up. A magic system called mystech revolves around rocks with special powers like fireball. These rocks can later be modified with elementors to provide new effects. And also like console RPGs, the game has many mini-games including playing video games. Although it gets off to a slow start, if you are looking for an entertaining story, look no further than Anachronox.

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  • Wizardry 8
    Data Sheet:


    Review
    Demo
    Game Profile
    Buy Wizardry 8
    Vital Stats

    Dev: Sir-tech Canada
    Pub: Sir-tech Canada
    Genre: RPG
    Release: November 2001
    Arcanum
    Data Sheet:


    Review
    Demo
    Game Profile
    Dimensions of Arcanum
    Buy Arcanum
    Vital Stats

    Dev: Troika Games
    Pub: Sierra
    Genre: RPG
    Release: August 2001
    Anachronox
    Data Sheet:


    Review
    Demo
    Game Profile
    PlanetAnachronox
    Buy Anachronox
    Vital Stats

    Dev: ION Storm
    Pub: EIDOS Interactive
    Genre: RPG
    Release: June 2001


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