1999 Reviews

The Wheel of Time Demo

  • Review Date: 1999-11
  • Release Date: 1999-11
  • Developer: Legend Entertainment
  • Rating: 8.0

Finally The Wheel of Time went gold and a demo was released. So I downloaded the demo of two levels from the game and didn't really know what to expect. Legend Entertainment has been around for a while, but doesn't seem to have had much experience with first-person-shooters. Although they have done the Unreal mission pack, designing a few new monsters and weapons and making a dozen levels isn't quite the same as making an entire game. And I haven't played this mission pack anyway. So all I could go by, was that James Parkman was one of the level designers (who started with creating free Q2 levels such as The Azure Mine, which I gave 77%).One of the other level designers was Warren Marshall, and his only Q2 release, Bad Seed, wasn't too impressive (52%).

Nevertheless, my first impression of the game - wow! And that is exactly what is needed for a new fps...

As I ran through the first level I was very impressed. The architecture and design was great, textures were pretty nice and the atmosphere was perfect. Just look at those screenshots - when was the last time you played a level that was so blue? For me it was way back in the days of Quake (Ikspq). If the rest of the levels are like this one, then we have a nice non-linear game here. There were alot of paths to take, and at one time I didn't actually know where to go next.

On to the second level, which started off in some kind of prison, but parts of it seemed more like a palace to me. It was quite different from the blueish town I'd just finished, a refreshing and beautiful change.

These levels were grand, and if this is what the rest of the game design is like, then we have a winner! This is better than anything I have seen to date.

Unfortunately, the gameplay might be what ruins this game. I have mixed feelings about it. For the first time the enemies are quicker than the player! While some are fun to kill, others were a little frustrating. In the first level, other than some silly cloud which would follow you and leave a hazardous path of smoke, you mainly fight a bunch of very fast tall monsters that run at you and try to slash you. Maybe this is WoT's version of Quake's Fiend, Quake 2's Mutant and Half-Life's Zombie. If it is, then the WoT is going to be a helluva alot of fun and very challenging.

The second level was not fun at all. You fight humans this time - one with a sword and shield so whenever you fire an arrow at him he would deflect it straight back at you, while the other was a guy with a bow and arrow - and he never misses either! He seemed to take quite alot of hits before dying (or maybe my aim isn't that good!) and they were both faster than the player. I just didn't find these human enemies very fun to fight.

Another thing which let me down quite alot was the speed. Running on a Pentium 450, 128mb Ram and a 32mb Tnt2 card, I experienced quite alot of slowdowns while running in OpenGL mode, although I was running at 800*600, and I had all the settings as high as they could go. It was very noticable on the second level while fighting the swordsman and arrowman at the same time - it was like doing deathmatch (I'm always lagged)!

Overall, I'm still not sure about WoT. The levels look brilliant, layout is good, weapons seem fine, but is it too hard? I didn't notice any skill settings either. Hopefully we will see Wheel of Time become a classic, and yes, I'll be reviewing levels for it too!