Rage of Mages II from Nival Interactive
Reviewed by: Eric Pankoke
I’ve never been a real big fan of ports. Typically, if the port is going from a small machine to a big machine, the developers don’t want to spend the time to add extra features to take advantage of the new, expanded hardware. When going from a big to a small machine, the developers often try to cram too much in and don’t take into account the limited interface or capabilities of the target platform. Such is the case with Rage Of Mages II (also called Allods 2) from Nival Interactive.
The game has some sort of “Mad Mages trying to take over the world” type fantasy plot, but I honestly haven’t been interested enough to pay that close attention to the main story. For your part in the plot you get to choose one of four characters – if I had to guess I’d say a warrior, archer, sorceress and mage – and try to help vanquish the evil that has spread across the land. You initially have a couple of tasks to complete, but once you get to the first town beyond your starting point you can select which quests to do in what order, within certain boundaries. So far quests have typically been of the “find and kill the bad guy of the area” type, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary there.
The game is divided up into two types of areas. There are towns where you can buy goods or hang out in taverns to hear the latest gossip, get new quests and hire mercenaries to journey with you. Then there are the quest sections, which see you wandering around areas to either talk to NPCs or fight monsters, and every once in a while there might even be some goods for you to pick up. That’s basically it for gameplay.
The interface in town is simple enough. Click on a building to enter it. Click on a patron in the tavern and press “Talk” to hear what they have to say, or “Hire” if the option is available to have them join your party. In the shop, you can drag items from your inventory to the shop to sell, or from the shop to your inventory to buy.
Once you get to the quest areas, the interface becomes a jumbled mess. There are a bunch of icons on the right hand side, and it took me several times of reading the help and then looking back at the icons (you can’t have the help open at the same time) to figure out what icon does what. To move around the area you can click on an individual party member or drag and surround to select multiple party members. Then just click where you want to go. At least, that’s what you do if the area you want to move to is visible on the screen. To move somewhere farther away, you need to scroll the map first. Supposedly this can be done by clicking on the edges of the map, but that very seldom worked for me. You can use the D-Pad, which is what I primarily end up doing, but for some reason that seems awkward.
To talk to NPCs scattered around the map, you walk near them. I would much rather be able to click on them, because it’s often hard to tell whether an NPC is not responding simply because they have nothing to say or because you haven’t approached them from the right direction. However, if you want to pick up items on the map you can click on those. Of course, more often than not I seemed to have to fight with my characters in order to get them to pick anything up.
Speaking of fighting, the combat in Rage Of Mages is pretty hideous as well. To attack a monster, you select one or more player characters, then click on the monster to attack. Or, you can use some of the icons to the right. I tend to prefer the more direct route of clicking on the bad guys, which at first seems acceptable. Once that monster is killed, though, your characters seemed to get confused. Often, clicking on a new target does nothing, or results in only a portion of the selected characters actually attacking. What’s worse, if you kill a monster and another one comes up to attack you, often the character will stand there like a deer trapped in headlights. In battles that require stealth and planning, these nuances get rather frustrating.
The worst part of the whole interface is that in the two most complex areas, character creation and solving quests, there’s not really any good explanation of what’s going on. A more robust help file would have been nice, and shouldn’t have been that hard to do.
The graphics in Rage Of Mages 2 are not very consistent. Things like the menus and shops are done very nicely. However, once you get into the quest areas, the graphics get muddled and often unrecognizable. Half the time I’m not really sure what I’m fighting. The absolute worst offenders, however, are the player character and party NPCs. No matter which player type you choose, your character in the game always looks the same. To make matters worse, half the people that join your party look just like you. Short of clicking on them and listening to their voices, the only way to distinguish who’s who is to look at the inventory.
The sound effects in the game vary greatly. Some, like the ambient sounds of creatures in the forest, are really nice. Others, like the sound a mage makes when idle, can get rather annoying. The worst, however, is the voice of your main character, who feels the need to say something along the lines of “okay” every time you move. There’s no music in the game whatsoever. Not during the introduction, or when sorting through the menus, or during the game itself. To me there’s no excuse for that these days, especially from an established developer.
I think there were good intentions here. Unfortunately, instead of taking an established premise and making a unique interpretation for a different platform, they chose the “easy” route and made a flawed port in an unwelcoming environment. If you’ve run out of other role playing games, you might consider giving RofM 2 a shot. However, I strongly suggest making sure you’ve extinguished your other options first.
At least it’s an RPG
The potential of a good story is there
Inconsistent audio and video
Final Score: 4/10