THE HALL OF LEGENDS AWAITS YOU
Warcraft II opened a whole new can of worms in the strategy gaming world. These games evolved into the 'Real Time-Action/Strategy' category we see so often these days. Clones have been popping up left and right (which isn't a bad thing). Players may now choose from medieval, military, intergalactic, and many other realms of combat. Well, INTERPLAY has joined the ranks once again with their dungeons & dragons, forgotten realms, action/strategy hit, Blood & Magic.
From the tales of travel to the Utter East from Waterdeep, came the discovery of the great Bloodforges. They seemed to generate magical armies from the surrounding air in the hands of powerful wizards. The first was discovered by Rosamund Flame-Hair, Queen of Edenvale. From the great Bloodforge rose strange basal golems. The basal golems unerringly followed the will of their creator. As they gathered magical energies, more would be created and later transformed into a host of creatures both magical and mundane.
Queen Rosamund quickly proclaimed herself Sorceress-Queen of the neighboring lands. As the word of her magical armies spread, other Lords began to search the land for weapons of power. More Bloodforges were discovered over time and after many wars, a truce was called by all the kingdoms; each in possession of its own mystical Bloodforge.
Blood & Magic follows the same simple interface as most other games of this type. But instead of collecting resources from the land, players will find themselves collecting Mana, or magical energy. There are several story lines that a player may choose from. Each advances in difficulty and players may play as the antagonist or protagonist in each. After choosing a storyline and an alliance, the 'victory conditions' are revealed. They vary with each story and give new players a helpful sense of direction.
At the beginning of each scenario, you are given at least one or two basal golems to build your armies from. Each basal golem slowly generates mana while standing still, so it's wise to keep a few stationary as to constantly refuel your resources. When you're feeling bold, you may opt to explore the surrounding area. Since uncharted regions are covered in that all too familiar black cloud, it's very difficult to gauge what you're up against until it's too late.
Basal golems are the bread and butter of the game. After a foundation is discovered, four basal golems may be placed on top of it and transformed into a Mystical site. In some of the storylines, you will begin with predetermined sites. Mystical sites come in five varieties. The Arbor Lodge(druids, griffins, etc.), Barracks(warriors, rangers, etc.), Crypts (zombies, wraiths, etc.), Runestones (wizards, wyrms, etc.), and Temples (clerics, paladins, etc.).
When another golem is positioned next to a site, it may be transformed into a higher level creature; each with it's own unique strengths, weaknesses and varied abilities. As you collect mana and your army grows, you will gain experience points. The actual number changes from creation, destruction, spellcasting, discovery, and combat. These points may be spent on research of more powerful creatures. For example: A player has created one mystical site, the Runestone. He/she has decided that the low level wizards are not powerful enough to defeat the enemy they are up against. 2,000 experience points has been accumulated through various means. He/she elects to research a much more powerful creature for their basal golems to transform into. The stone golem is chosen from a list of available research options at a cost of 1,800xp. A scroll that slowly opens at the top right side of the screen indicates the research progress. A voice will announce 'Research Complete!' when the proper amount of time has elapsed. Now the player may transform weak basal golems into a hearty stone golems to take the front line of combat while his/her wizards hang back and fire lightning bolts at attacking enemies. Whallah instant strategy!!!
As in life, everything in Blood & Magic has a cost. Stronger creatures cost more mana to create, so does casting spells to heal, harm, capture, charm, and frighten to name a few. You must carefully balance your resources in the game in order to succeed.
Luckily, Blood & Magic comes with an 'In-Game' manual to help you better manage your mana. Simply click on the encyclopedia or you can click on the question mark and place it on an item/creature and you will be given all the information you need about it. Since some of the creature you'll create will be able to carry an item with them, it's best to know the benefits of that item so you can place magical armor, healing potions, gauntlets, teleport books and an array of other trinkets in hands that will benefit you the most in your quests for power.
The graphics in Blood & Magic are reminiscent of my old days in the D&D books. Each character has a unique look and wonderful animation. It's by no means perfect, but entertaining to the last. Rangers shooting arrows, building on fire, paladins marching to combat, gargoyles flying and computer controlled packs of wolves hunting the nearest wanderer all have their charms.
The story line before and after game-play unfolds with delightful drawings and is narrated for the player. The speech is very well done and the music is good but not great; almost typical for a Dungeons & Dragons computer game. Overall, graphics and sound are not the strongest points of the game.
Blood & Magic is a delightful action/strategy simulator. It's a must for the Dungeons & Dragons fans out there. After all the scenarios are complete, players can choose a random campaign. Here you can design what you look like, choose a color, and then where you wish to do battle. The computer will determine your alignment (Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, etc.) depending on your actions and merits and you will be entered into the Hall of Legends. With the option of network play and random generation, this may prove to be a wonderful union for all D&D players around the globe.