Raven Software is typically known for its 3D corridor shooter games, such as Hexen, Hexen II and their work on Quake. So, Mageslayer, a top down 3D action gore-fest, is a bit of a departure for them. And is this departure a good thing? Quite simply, yes.
As previously stated before, Mageslayer takes place in a top-down 3D world, much like Gauntlet. Where it differs from the latter is that it revolves in a 3D environment. The various levels in Mageslayer often consist of multiple planes, slopes, floors, and platforms that add an incredible feeling of depth. Not only does the top-down perspective work well, but also the game looks absolutely amazing with highly detailed surroundings and crisp animation. Players will come in contact with fully animated gear systems, flowing lava, wicked lighting effects, etc. The monsters are also quite impressive, and there are a lot of them to slay. Monsters will come at you from all angles, some of which even fall down from the ceiling or an above floor. It really starts to remind you of Gauntlet because of the sheer amount of nasties you'll encounter. On top of all this, there are some puzzle solving elements. Sometimes players must hit switches to open doors or look for hidden walls. If your sense of observation is lacking, chances are you'll be stuck quite often and miss lots of hidden goodies.
Players can choose from one of four characters: Warlock, Inquisitor, Arch-Demon and Earth Lord. Each character has their own unique abilities and skills. For instance, the Warlock uses energy blasts, such as lighting, the Inquisitor fires holy missiles from her cross, the Arch-Demon shoots fire, and the Earth Lord uses the power of Earth to destroy his foes. Your characters also have the ability to raise levels, much like a role-playing game. Levels are gained by fighting off the hordes of enemies which gives you experience points. After a certain level is met, your character learns newer, more powerful spells or obtains weapons upgrades.
To extend replay value and life, a multiplayer feature has been added. Up to 16 people can go at it head to head or in cooperative modes via the Internet. Among the options, there is the SlayFest, a chaotic free for all, Cooperative mode that allows you to play the game with a group of friends, and Capture the Relic. Much like Capture the Flag, players are assigned to teams and must steal each other's relics. From my experiences, the multiplayer aspect's latency is a bit too sloppy which results in a lot of lag and unfair deaths.
All in all, Mageslayer is a terrific game that offers non stop action and a great challenge that remains fun from start to finish. Any action gamer or cult fan of the arcade classic Gauntlet would be wise not pass this one by.
Graphics: Everything is highly detailed and animated and features lots of gorgeous 3D textures. Looks even better with a 3Dfx card.
Sound: The sound effects are very good, featuring ambiance and sometimes scary monster effects. The music is quite good as well with a medieval soundtrack.
Enjoyment: This game is just a blast to play. It offers non-stop action from start to finish. It is also quite challenging which is a good thing.
Replay Value: Because this game is so much fun to go through, its still exiting the second time around. There's also different multiplayer options that extend it's life.
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