History: Blood & Magic (affectionately called BAM by Interplay) has been in development for over two years now and as it nears to completion, we are wondering just how much the final game has changed from the original. First of all Blood & Magic is not a role playing game (Read this to mean there is no character development. Bummer! - Ed.).
Plot: Set in the TSR’s Forgotten Realms game setting of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Utter East, players start with a powerful Mage and a portal to summon acolytes. You must gather mana to build armies and summon characters of legendary proportions or discover buildings which endow the character with certain abilities. Buildings are discovered not constructed initially. The blood forge permits the character to create more men. Utter East is a new Forgotten Realms game setting.
Game play:A unique part of the game play is the Glems which are produced by the blood forge and transmutted by other structures into the other unique characters in the game. The golems are the basic clay that other characters are molded from in the crypt, barracks, temple, and mage towers. The game artificial intelligence is still a succer for wall building as was the original Command and Conquer. Players will have to be careful not to use defensive walls as their own strategy to get more of a challenge from the game.
Experience is gained by exploration, defeating enemies, finding special items, making Golems, and winning the scenarios which are completed in sequence. Experience gives the player the power to research new character types. Once fully researched, the blood forge will develop the ability to create those characters. Various mystical sites will allow Acolytes to transform into more powerful beings. This process is illustrated in the wizards duel that was on the demo CD of the game that Interplay is passing out.
Scenarios: There will be five different story lines and another play mode that will combine all the scenarios into one large story. Five missions each for each of five scenarios for a total of 30 missions, each with a unique landscape and exotic magical items. Thirty scenarios sounds like too few to have much game play unless the game player finds the game ridiculously difficult. Each scenerio can be played from the side of evil or good.
Many of the maps are unique with some really interesting aspects. One map puts you on the top of plateaus, connected by bridges and separated by large impassable chasms. Other maps are just as interesting with fortresses and graveyards, thorn bushes and all types of unique items.
Heroes: Like the Heroes of Might and Magic, 28 heroes, selected from AD&D Forgotten Realms characters and monsters from wyverns to wizards, lead your army groups and only the heroes improve in power. Artifacts can be collected including weapons, treasure chests, magic potions, and spells are discovered as the scenario unfolds. You play from the point of view of the hero that you choose.
Interface: A large top down perspective map window in the upper left hand corner of the screen shows the local explored area of the larger map. The upper right hand corner shows a smaller top down map screen which is the entire game map. Both maps are subject to the fog of war shown as black until the area is explored when the area opens up to view. Clicking on characters selects them. Once selected the actions from the bottom center of the screen direct the characters to perform certain actions, such as build, repair, or others. There is a group of about 30 hot keys that you can play with.
Buttons under the smaller map window control time, help, save and load, and other program utilities. Along the bottom the selected character’s picture and statistics for hit, attack, defense, and movement points, are displayed. Special action keys are in the center and the selected spells and other affects are to the right. A small black panel at the very bottom of the page reports on conflicts and happenings
Difficulty: Unfortunately difficulty is achieved by throwing more of the enemy at you. The expert scenario already has you pitted against eight or nine characters from the beginning. The latter scenarios are nearly impossible to win.
Graphics: Blood and Magic uses many different tile sets to represent terrain, resulting in a very colorful and varied display which is quite attractive. The wizards duel at the beginning of the demo was traditional two dimensional drawn or hand rendered characters and backgrounds. The work was quite good. The graphics of the overhead perspective play field and interface mat are in three dimensional graphics, either real or simulated, with higly detailed and smoothly animated characters on a scrolling map background
Sound effects: According to Interplay, there is "not much to mention" about the sound effects, which include explosions, death screams, and sword clangs, in this game.
Music score: Is a deep brasso profundo, or mood music with a hard driving elevator flavor. What there was on the demo became repetitive quick. Each scenerio has its own theme music.
Voice actors: The voice actor on disk has a polished professional voice that adds dignity to the game. The voice is used in the slide show like introductions describing the plot and to keep you informed of what is happening during the game and for the winning, loosing, and scenario introduciton schemes.
Utilities: There is no game editor, but there is a random game generator.
Multiplayer: Single player and head-to-head modes are supported. The scenarios are made for multiplayer. Each scenario has two points of view that of either that of evil and good or in one scenario that of a princess and her suitor.
Hints: There is a hint book available from Prima written by Bart Farkas with solutions to all the scenarios. The book has complete maps and essential strategies for winning the game in the more difficult scenarios. The secret cheat codes will help those who need help most. Price $15.99. Blood and Magic Cheat Codes Journalists: The ratings from the experts range from 30% to 83%. This is a game where the experts give us little guidance. I liked the game, but then what do I know. Reminded me of some of the Strategic Simulations Games I played bask in the dark ages, such as Eternal Dagger.
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Jason Bates, PC Gamer, volume 3, number 6, June, 1996, pg. 40-41.
Scott Udell, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, September, 1996, pg. 52.
Glenn Broderick, Computer Player, volume 3, number 5, October, 1996, pg. 36.
Eric Erickson, http://www.gamepen.com/softwarepen/previews/blood.html
Jason Bates, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 3, March, 1997, pg. 118, 83%.
Arinn Dembo, Computer Gaming World, issue 153, April, 1997, pg. 164 - 166, 30%.
Alan Dunkin, Computer and Net Player, volume 3, number 12, May, 1997, pg. 92, 60%.
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