The Apocalypse is Nigh...
Quake. Fun in many ways, lacking in many others. As done in the past, Raven has taken the latest id technology and put together a dandy game. As with its predecessors, Hexen 2 combines role-playing elements with the gorgeous Quake engine in a way that will please both hard-core action game fans as well as role-playing game fans. The puzzles aren't brain busters, but they are no walk in the park either. Most of them consist of finding the right number of items and placing them in the correct spot, but some puzzles go a little bit deeper, much deeper than Quake anyhow.
The premise is simple, four Serpent Riders are left in the world, and you have to dispel them. Each Serpent Rider is a boss of a "hub" or a large area in the game. Unlike Quake, Hexen 2 isn't laid out in linear levels, instead there are large areas interconnected through portals. Each hub has its own specific time period that it's set in, giving the player a new experience in each hub. These time periods are Medieval, Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Meso-American. This time around, there are four character classes, one greater than Hexen's original three. They include the Assassin, the Crusader, the Paladin, and the Necromancer. Each character has different weapons and different abilities. For example, the Assassin can hide in the shadows and at the brink of death the Paladin sometimes receives a healing gift from his god. Although each class only has 4 weapons, when you add all the weapons up: that's 16. Plus the Tome of Power which changes the effect of each weapon, bringing the grand total to 32. A refreshing variety after Quake's 8.
The graphics are, in a word, gorgeous. Raven's graphical ability can be traced all the way back to Heretic; in fact, Raven's games have always looked better than id's incarnations under the same engine. The characters are modeled splendidly, tapping once again from Raven's artistic talent. From spiders to flying gargoyles, Hexen 2 has it all. They've also taken id's particles to the next level - not only are they used for some explosions, they're used in fountains and in other environmental effects, it just looks great. Many complaints about Quake lay in the bland looking weapons. If you were one of those people, you won't be disappointed. Hexen 2's weapons are genuinely impressive and innovative. As Shakespeare and game evangelists would say, "the play's the thing" and graphics don't matter. However, it's hard to say that after seeing this game (especially in 3dfx mode), it just looks phat (for those who don't speak ebonics: that means "good").
Even with its graphic superiority, what stands out even more is the level design. From the towns of the medieval times to the pyramids of the ancient Egyptians, Raven has left no detail out. Break tables, smash statues, knock down book cases, crack windows. Like to break things? Don't want to get arrested for it? Hexen 2 is the game for you: you can interact with the environment more than any other first person action game on the market.
The sound? Its fine, but frankly, you don't notice it. Which isn't a bad thing, you'll be so immersed in this game you wont really be thinking about each sound effect, instead it'll be a complete experience. This level of immersion is what really makes Hexen 2 fun, an hour will pass and it'll seem like a minute. Hexen 2, in essence, is an action game with only a few RPG elements. It has puzzles, but your average bombastic grade school graduate should have no problem solving them. The multiplayer aspect is based exactly on Quake's, so don't expect many differences other than the obvious character class options. If you like action games but are bored by incessant violence, I highly reccomend Hexen 2.