Heretic II


Title           Heretic II
Game Type       3D adventure
Compatibility   Amigas with PPC accelerator, at least 64 Mb RAM, AGA or gfx
                card, 300 Mb Hard disk space, WarpOS and Warp3D (latter for
                3D cards)
Company         Hyperion Software
Submission      Seppo Typpö (groucho@pp.inet.fi) Profiled Reviewer

Review
"Gather around" said the Reviewer. "I have played this new Amiga game from
Hyperion Software, Heretic II, and here are my experiences after a couple
of weeks of solid play". The restless mob of Amiga owners started to
approach the man who appeared from the shadows holding the shiny new
cardboard box which had the logos of Hyperion, Raven, Activision and Titan
Computers carved on it. The Reviewer looked at the curious faces and
opened his mouth.

"Ever since Phase 5 released its PPC accelerators and the accompanying 3D
gfx cards for the Amiga computers, people have been waiting for decent
PPC/3D games to appear. Sadly, these new generation wonders have been
limited to few fine examples (like PPC versions of Quake and Descent).
Hyperion Software is about to change the situation though, with an
impressive lineup of conversions from well known PC classics. Their first
release is Heretic II, a 3D adventure with a difference.

Coming in an impressive two CDROMs and with a printed manual, Heretic II
is a huge game. Installation is pretty straightforward - standard Amiga HD
Installer offers the usual options from novice to expert. Heretic II needs
at least 300 Mb of hard disk space plus additional megabytes for save
games (the manual recommends at least 400 Mb of hard disk space).

Another record breaking feature is the memory consumption. Heretic II
needs at least 64 Mb Fast RAM - never in the history of Amiga gaming has
so many bytes been needed to run a single game - and this is only the
absolute minimum. The more RAM your machine has the better Heretic II runs
- for example, you'll be able to use bigger memory caches for textures and
sound, reducing the hard disk accesses notably - which then results in a
faster game."

"ENOUGH!", the Amiga owners cry. "OK, so we need a MONSTER Amiga to run
the game - but is it worth investing into PPC card, RAM and bigger hard
disk just to play this game?"

"I'll get into this later", said the Reviewer, "after a brief game
description."

"Heretic II is a 3D adventure in the Tomb Raider mold. This means that
unlike in for example Quake, the player character is viewed from a third
person perspective, straight behind the character. The player is able to
freely change the camera view, a feature which is effectively used for
checking the surroundings, aiming the weapons and navigating your
character through the levels . While awkward at the beginning, the system
works surprisingly well once the player gets used to it (especially with
carefully defined mouse and keyboard controls).

There's very little to say about the plot of the adventure without
spoiling the surprises, so I'll keep it brief. The intro movie nicely
unfolds the history behind current events, and the actual game starts when
Corvus, the main character, returns from a long trip to his home village
only to find out that his race has fallen into the hands of a mysterious
plague. The reasons for this is unfolded as Corvus (aided by the player)
starts to investigate things further.

The plot leads Corvus into several interesting locations and introduces
him to the other races, some of them are hostile while some of them are in
need of his help. Interestingly, each race has their own characteristics
when it comes to battle and other activities. The manual gives nice
background stories about each race and also offers some helpful hints on
how to deal with them.

Although most of the non-player characters in the game attack Corvus
without a second thought there are also helpful characters which aid him on
his quest. Corvus also has receives guidance in the form of Tome of Power,
a kind of powerful spirit which sometimes offers useful advice and other
valuable help."

"Never mind the plot!" the angry Amiga arcade players shouts. "Is there
any action in the game?"

"Corvus is not totally helpless against the minions of plague. Several
offensive and defensive weapons can be found during his travels. There are
short and long range weapons, some of which are more effective against
certain enemies than others. It is up to the player to choose the correct
weapon against the correct enemy but it is not really critical to find
exactly the right one - each weapon offers decent protection so the player
is never left in a situation where he has a totally inappropriate weapon
in his (or her) hands.

I am not going to go through all the weapons, only my favourite offensive
and defensive ones. The Meteor Swarm is a magical defensive weapon which,
when used, creates a set of meteorites which circle around the player.
When close to enemies, these rocks act like "fire and forget" homing
missiles, independently picking their own targets and flying into them,
causing notable damage.

The Durhnwood Staff is to Corvus what the Light Sabre is to Jedi Knights
in Star Wars. While it can be uppgraded, even in its basic version, it is
a very powerful weapon when in capable hands. There are several
moves which can be executed, all capable of dismembering and killing the
enemies in a gory fashion. When facing multiple enemies, often it is
easiest (and most satisfying) just to choose the Staff and engage in
mortal combat with your foes, chopping at heads and arms, bathing in
showers of blood and flying guts, ultimately experiencing a brutal victory
(or defeat). Even if you're normally a peace-loving person (like I am) it
is very easy to get addicted to this bloodfest."

"How does it look or sound?" asks the PC owner who had suddenly but not
surprisingly appeared into scene. "Surely they had to make sacrifices when
converting this allmighty PC game to the humble Amiga!"

"Strong visuals play an important part in Heretic II. The modified Quake
II engine allows exceptional detail in both level and character graphics
and thanks to an excellent conversion, both are present in the Amiga
version too. The flexible character models allow dismembering of
individual body parts. Each location is filled with all kinds of detailed
objects, most of which can be destroyed if the player is in a mood for a
little demolition.

Hyperion managed to keep the speed up too, with adequately fast frame
rates even on slower PPC Amigas (like my 160 MHz 603e equipped A1200). AGA
is fine for some LoRes action while a 3D graphics card keeps the game
playable on higher resolutions like 640x480 or 800x600.

The audio side contains decent sound effects (with lots of humorous
speech), excellent and atmospheric CD music and good voice-acting in the
in-game movies. Like the graphics, the sound department oozes professional
quality which takes the game experience into new, higher levels."

While the disgruntled PC owner skulks away, shaking his head in disbelief,
a long time Amiga player comes forward and says: "Well, I've seen many
Amiga games which look and sound fabby but play poorly. Where's the
gameplay, eh?"

"Great graphics and sound help little if the gameplay is poor - luckily
Heretic II offers a suitable challenge with logical puzzles and well
balanced difficulty settings. The game levels are generally extremely well
designed - my only criticism is some levels need the jump accuracy of a 2D
platform game - the third person perspective helps a bit but sometimes it
is all too easy to die from a misjugded jump (a perfect example is the
swamp level early in the game). This can quickly lead to frustration as
the player has to know the jump points and distances a character covers
while jumping, extremely well. Luckily, there's only a few locations which
suffer from this annoying feature.

To me however, the best part of Heretic II is that it feels more like an
adventure game than a pure arcade blast'em'all. Unlike for example Quake,
this game  actually has a good story to tell. Like in Malice (a Quake
Total Conversion), ingame movies (played using the game engine) are put to
good use, popping up from time to time to push the story onwards.

The game is full of nice touches - leave tha main character alone for a
short time and he might start killing flies or scratching himself in
suspicious -ahem- places. The detailed scenery contains little hints when
observed closely. Each beast has a recognisable voice which allow the
player to identify incoming foes even before actually seeing them. To be
able to return to levels previously played is quite a unique feature too,
allowing for puzzles which extend over multiple game levels. Great ingame
movies, funny and interesting non-player characters...network game
options...the list is almost endless..."

The Reviewer shuts his mouth, with his eyes staring far away into the
horizon. After a period which felt like an eternity to the Amiga owners
gathered around him, he looks back to the crowd and starts talking again.

"This review is approaching its end and I'll return to the earlier
question - is it worth the trouble (and money) to uppgrade your Amiga to
PPC just to be able to play this game?

Heretic II is one of those rare games that instantly drags the player into
an amazing adventure in a  wonderfully detailed fantasy world, keeping him
(or her) occupied there for some time, feeding the imagination and
curiosity before returning him (or her) back to the real world.

It is one of those games that you'll want to play more and more, while
fearing it will end much too soon. And when it ends, you'll feel both joy
and sadness, and hope to be able to experience a similar game soon. It is
one of those games which will get better when your Amiga gets better and
each uppgrade round sees you returning to it only just to see how much
smarter it looks and runs.

So I guess, the choice is yours and only yours, my friends. I remember
uppgrading my A500 with a half Mb memory expansion just to be able to play
Dungeon Master and other fine games which needed this (then awfully
expensive) uppgrade and I have never regretted that purchase. I dare say
uppgrading to the PPC is a similar bold step to take. And if there ever
was a reason to make this step, it is Heretic II."

The Reviewer shuts his mouth again - this time for good. He turns around
and disappears into the shadows, while the remaining Amiga crowd slowly
returns back to debating what direction the Amiga should take, when Putty
Squad will finally be released and what to do with those new household
pests, the UAE users...

                         EPILOGUE

If you find Heretic II interesting, you might also want to check out:

HUNTER by Paul Holmes/Activision. Long before Tomb Raider was even a
glimmer in Core Design's eye, Amiga owners were playing this
third-person-perspective 3D action adventure with a difference. Bit hard
to find these days, but definitely worth the hunt.

MALICE for QUAKE. This is imho the main reason for buying and playing
Quake. Like Heretic II, it combines explosive arcade action to a strong
and humorous story. Another reason to buy a PPC accelerator for your Amiga
as it really requires the PPC version of Quake to be playable.






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