Rage of Mages Review
By Daniel Kershaw |
Many years ago a comet struck the land and caused havoc for its inhabitants, raining debris and Astral matter down from the heavens. To protect the kingdoms, the Great Mages bound their towers and the surrounding areas with magic, effectively creating several island nations which can only be visited through to use of Astral magic. Your homeland, Kania, has experienced massive and costly wars since being cut-off from the rest of the kingdoms. Rage of Mages (RoM) begins with your party being summoned by the Emperor of Kania. After meeting briefly with his Highness, the Emperor's Wizard sends you to the kingdom of Uimoir to search for some way to end the constant warring in your homeland. Unfortunately, in the teleportation process, you become separated from your three companions and must set out on you own, searching the cities, swamps, and forests of Uimoir for your friends so you may achieve your ultimate goal of saving Kania.
While looking for your friends and attempting to complete your supreme quest, you will be given many smaller quests by the inhabitants of Uimoir. The first of these leads you to the town of Plagat, which becomes your base of operations for most of the game. In the town, you can buy and sell items, train your characters, and hire mercenaries to beef-up your party. In theory, all of this sounds pretty good. You've got magic, you've got intrigue . . . but RoM fails to offer anything new to the RPG genre and its quirky and, frankly, boring gameplay leaves much to be desired.
One of the biggest problems with RoM is that it fails to incorporate one of the most basic aspects of RPGs: you can't create your own character. Developers take note. The word role-playing is included in role-playing game for a reason: RPGers want to create their own persona to control in the game world. Yes, there is a menu where you can alter a few characteristics like name and sex, but you can only choose from one of two classes (fighter or mage) and there are no random stat rolls. Instead, RoM starts you out with a basic template of four stats (Body, Agility, Spirit, and Mind) which you can alter by taking points away from one and adding them to another. Overall, this makes RoM a very limited RPG. And, with its real-time combat system, I would even say that RoM resembles more of a real-time strategy game with RPG elements.
As if this weren't limited enough, RoM includes a pitifully small bestiary (12 different types of creatures) and resorts to the different color = more powerful formula that is often incorporated in console-style RPGs. Spellcasters can choose from five different spheres of magic (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Astral), but there is only a total of 24 spells. Come on, where's the variety? RoM even uses an overhead view with you looking down on your party. This isn't so bad unto itself, but, since the graphics aren't very colorful or detailed to begin with, this gives RoM a very flat appearance. And what's up with the jiggling trees? Is that supposed to simulate wind?
The AI is also not up to the level of other games of this type. Although the 'Swarm' command is supposed to make units automatically attack when an opponent comes into range, the archers and spell casters seem to be the only ones who actually respond. Your hand-to-hand combatants will just stand there watching an archer get pounded on and not attack the opponent unless it is in a square directly adjacent to them. This leads to frustrating unit micro-management which can be a real pain in the ass if you're commanding two knights and a group of four mercenaries against eight orcs while trying to protect a group of merchants and simultaneously cast a heal spell with one mage and a fire bolt with another (insert breath here). I think you get my point: the real-time control system just becomes too involved and tedious in large battles, especially when your hand-to-hand troops stand around picking their butts. The mages seem to do well enough and even heal your entire party automatically after a battle, but what's the deal with the fighter types?
RoM is an action oriented console-style RPG, so fans of traditional RPGs (like myself) will become quickly bored with this game. Even fans of console-style RPGs (which, if done correctly, work brilliantly . . . Final Fantasy VII for instance) probably won't like RoM because of its quirky interface, incompetent AI, and lack of any innovation. Avoid this one.
-- Tal Blevins