Rifts, Pathway To Glory, D&D Online

My N-Gage hasn’t seen much gaming. Last evening I checked out the demo versions of Rifts: Promise Of Power and Pathway To Glory, the platform’s famed “single good game”. They’ve both been very good.

Pathway’s production values and the level of general presentation are so high that you really forget that you’re playing the game on a phone’s tiny screen. Pathway feels like it’s pretty much the best tactical game I’ve played, ever. I must see if I can secure myself a full copy from somewhere. I was delighted to have my squad wiped out in a few rounds on my first go!

Rifts is very much like the numerous Japanese “tactical rpgs” that are popular on the numerous Gameboy formats. It sports fine graphics, likeable audio, pretty well-written dialogue and an interesting world. You control an adventurer in real-time, from an isometric perspective, and fight your opponents, taking turns to do so.

I was delighted to notice that the designers have decided to retain much of the original game’s overly complex themes and game system. It really does feel like Rifts. Also, it was refreshing to see that you have to work to get your first level of experience. I don’t understand the Japanese method of piling XP levels on the player after every couple of fights – they just don’t feel like they’re worth anything, when you don’t have to put up an effort in order to get them.

The original Rifts pen and paper rpg is a hopeless mish-mash of styles and themes, coupled with a train wreck of a game system. (It’s got lots of fans, though, so they must be doing something right. For the rest of us, I’ve got one word: Splugorth!) I was very curious to see it licenced as a videogame, but hats off to the team for making it worth the trouble.

Dungeons & Dragons Online was launched. Apparently they’ve made D&D into a proper videogame. By the first reviews it seems that they haven’t dumbed down the mechanics and that combat (of which there is plenty to go around) requires some skill on behalf of the player, requiring him to dodge and block in addition to merely clicking away at the foes á la traditional net roleplaying games (Anarchy Online, World Of Warcraft, what have you).

The game also requires you to function as a party and most of the quest content are proper dungeons. Most of the stuff one might like in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, edition 3.5, seems to be included. All of this is very cool. While there’s still apparently no player-driven narrative or any of the other stuff that I’m really looking forward to in a net rpg, the proper implementation of the D&D ethos in digital form is really a welcome thing in itself.

The one thing I would miss, though, is a 20-sided die.

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