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Nox - Retroview

Diablo II competed with this?

By: Paul Koehler


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 2
   Originality 8
   Plot 2
   Localization NA
   Replay Value 8
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Moderate
   Time to Complete

10-20 Hours

 
Overall
number
Criteria

Title Screen
Blizzard owns you. Live with it.

   One of the worst moments for many PC gamers was the first half of 2000, as Blizzard North delayed the release of Diablo II multiple times. First it was Christmas of 1999, then March 2000, then May 2000, and so on. During the interim, Westwood Entertainment decided to release one of their own titles, which in many respects was (and still is) a clone of the original Diablo. Nox was heralded a strong competitor to Diablo II, until Blizzard finally released their mega hit in the late summer of 2000. And the rest, as they say, is history. Nox has been bumped to bargain bin status, but ironically, this may be where it shines…maybe. Nox follows a line of games that decided to improve upon the concept of the original Diablo, by adding a few new features to the game that improve the game play.

 

 

As with many PC titles, it takes some time to get used to Nox's controls. It is recommended that players who have small monitors set the resolution at a low level. Nox's graphics are impressive, but this can detract from the game, especially if they are used to console titles. Hotkeys are essential, especially for Conjurers or Sorcerers who need to scroll through their spell book at a fast rate. Equipment wears down fast in this game. It's entirely possible to make a 10- minute dungeon crawl and have plate armor disintegrate from the character's body. This, with the sparse placement of shops and expensive repair costs, should be an important thing to consider while playing the solo game. Quick action is required in battles, or else, you will die…fast. Like many PC titles, a useful save feature is included that allows you to save anywhere in the game at any time.


Silly Little Comment on Screen
A dungeon crawl takes its toll on equipment...  

Are these features an improvement over the original Diablo? To a degree, yes, but part of Diablo's charm was the fact that any average Joe could sit down and master the basic points of the game in a few minutes. This is not to say Nox has a high learning curve. It just takes more time than a console game, but at least the solo player games start easy.

It's just as well that Westwood put a lot of work into the interface, because the voice acting is horrid. The hero, the villain, and the majority of NPC sound like relatives of Westwood employees (or maybe they are Westwood employees who did this as a side gig). It's rare that a PC title has high-caliber voice actors working for them, but even so, it does nothing to excuse this. The music, while not horrible, is background fodder…much like the plot.

Plot? What plot? An evil necromancer, Hecubah, wants to rule the world. While performing a ceremony, she summons Jack from his trailerpark in Earth. Jack is whisked to Nox and must become the "chosen warrior" to defeat Hecubah and her minions. As said before, the plot is background fodder. Most of the background is given during the game's install process. I usually find trailer trash humor amusing, but it wasn't even done right (if at all).


Cutesy or Realistic Name
Squall's "Lionheart" is nothing compared to this!  

To Westwood's credit, their multiplayer service works well, and serves as an interesting AND workable substitute to D2's battle.net. Nox's multiplayer services are designed around the concept of Quake servers (seriously!) Have you ever tried using a hack-and-slash RPG character in a capture-the-flag match? It's interesting. Too bad the rest of the game couldn't follow in its innovation. Although Nox's multiplayer community does not scratch the masses of battle.net players, their community does have a small and loyal following, complete with clans and a regional ladder system.

Nox's artists put some work into the game also, and it shows. For computer users who have the hardware and a large monitor, try playing the game in 1024*768 resolution. It looks beautiful during the whole game. The FMV scenes, however, are nothing special, as Westwood has been beaten considerably by Blizzard in that department.

During the six-month period between Nox and D2's releases, Nox provided a temporary alternative to hack-and-slash fans. When D2 came along though, Nox never stood a chance. I bought this game at a local CompUSA for $16 US Dollars, and as a bargain bin title, Nox will provide an interesting diversion. To think this was one of D2's main competitors, however, is blasphemy.

   


 



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