Wizardry 8 is solid, deep, immersive, and one of the most enjoyable RPGs created in a long while (circa 2002). It pays homage to the old ways of RPG construction and that's what stops it from being a perfect game, but not a classic in its own right.
The events follow those of Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant. Long ago, the Cosmic Lords hid three artifacts used to help create the universe. Alien races find two of them, each containing a map to the third, which is located on Dominus. Along with the aliens and the Dark Savant, your adventurers become marooned on the planet and must prevent the items from falling into enemy hands.
The adventure features elements beyond the fantasy realm, such as spaceships, robots, and mechanized weapons that all blend seamlessly. Wizardry 8's plot isn't so much a journey to discover clues to a great mystery, but seems more like a great novel where the story develops over time with in-depth characters and epic battles.
The foresighted gamer who saved Wizardry VII characters from ten years ago can import them into the game; otherwise, a new party of up to six must be created from scratch. Eleven races include classic dwarves and hobbits, as well as exotic beings such as the cat-like Rawulf and apish Mooks. Fifteen character classes encompass standard mage and fighters, as well as the more powerful and advanced specialties like samurai, bishops, and Valkyries.
Throughout the course of the game, you can change character classes if you discover an adventurer just doesn't fit in with your party, or you need a particular class for a specific task. Certain races, though, are better at some things than others. For example, gnomes make great gadgeteers, while Draconians are superb Lords. Taking the time to select a solid, well-balanced war party is a long and tough process, but one that is mandatory if you want to finish the game.
Gameplay includes a seemingly never-ending supply of things to do and see, with an impressive array of enemies to fight; a huge selection of weapons, armors, and spells; subquests; and secrets to discover. The subquests add a great deal to the game and aren't just window-dressing. Outcomes of confrontations vary depending on how you interact with the NPCs and which side you choose to back in certain situations. Although you'll encounter a few puzzles, most of the time you'll be faced with long battles against up to a dozen monsters using turn-based combat.
The only real flaw is the use of classic first-person perspective in the 3D world, which gives you no sense of where your party members are or the directions they're facing. You can put weaker members of your party in the rear of your formation, but enemies come from all directions. Since you can only see straight ahead, you'll spend precious time repositioning your party, which leads to lots of death and restoration of saved games until your party gets stronger with better armor and weapons. An effective formation has fighters armed with halberds or pole arms in the middle, allowing you to attack and defend regardless of the angle from which you're attacked.
Fortunately, with the heavy emphasis on combat, new creature types appear regularly, constantly challenging and pushing your party to the limit of their abilities. Boss fights later in the game are very tough and rewarding in terms of acquiring magical armor and weapons. Experience points are awarded after each battle and characters level up to enhance existing abilities and gain new ones, providing a continuous feeling of accomplishment and growth.
Wizardry 8 is a must-have for any veteran or new RPG fan. With the design incorporating the best of the genre and eliminating the rough edges, the character building, combat, questing, and a never-ending supply of monsters and items will keep you playing for a very long time.
Graphics: The 3D creatures and environments, though not too detailed, are very distinct with movements and reactions commensurate with their abilities and your attacks.
Sound: With 18 voices for each gender, you'll eventually get to know your characters by speech. Weapons clash, spells make unique sounds when cast, and monsters grunt.
Enjoyment: Playing is sheer pleasure, each and every time a session is started. The immersion factor keeps you playing for hours on end and minimal flaws are easily ignored. The designers have incorporated the best and eliminated the worst elements of the genre in gameplay.
Replay Value: With 11 races and 15 classes, literally thousands of party combinations can be created, and the mix determines how the game plays out.
People who downloaded Wizardry 8 have also downloaded:
Wizardry Gold, Wizardry 7: Crusaders of the Dark Savant, Wizardry 6: Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Wizardry III: Legacy of Llylgamyn, Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna, Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds, Wizardry 1: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom
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