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Game Over Online ~ Clans

GameOver Game Reviews - Clans (c) Strategy First, Reviewed by - Seth Gecko

Game & Publisher Clans (c) Strategy First
System Requirements Pentium 120, 32MB Ram, 250MB HD
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Thursday, August 19th, 1999 at 06:29 PM


Divider Left By: Seth Gecko Divider Right

The RPG genre has risen from the dead in recent months, with the release of such hot titles as Darkstone and Baldur's Gate, and there's a slew of promising RPG games just waiting on the horizon. It's not uncommon to hear many of these titles being compared to the likes of Diablo, after all it could be argued that Diablo awakened what was a dorment genre at the time. For example, the Gathering of Developers' RPG Darkstone is commonly described as a Diablo clone. So it comes to no surprise that many are calling Strategy First's new RPG, Clans, a Diablo clone. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Clans is a role-playing action / adventure title that sets itself apart from the crowd with it's interesting and strong puzzle element. A bit of an odd mix that strikes well at times but ultimately left me wanting more gameplay and a new mouse.

Clans opens with an excellent introductory movie that foretells a typical fantasy storyline. The legend goes a little something like this...

Four Clans, living in harmony, were disturbed one day when the sun failed to rise. Darkness fell over the land as an evil Demon appeared from the sky. Along with his minions, the Demon spread terror through the land and turned the Clans against one another. The Elders, sorcerers, shamans, and healers from each of the Clans, met beneath the smoldering earth and forged the Crown of Peace. Under it's enchanted influence, the Clans were bound together and the Demon was vanquished. Many years advanced and as the Elders passed on, the Demon and his minions returned to the land. Happiness has once again turned to hatred and the Clans are at war once more. It is up to a chosen warrior, from each of the Clans, to find the Crown of Peace and destroy the Demon forever.

You play one of four available heroes, as you set off to defeat the Demon. You can choose to play as either a warrior, an elf, a dwarf, or a barbarian. The warrior features a balance of combat and magical skills, while the elf uses magic to fight. The dwarf is master of the axe yet still excels in the art of spellcasting. The barbarian uses bruth force and strength to conquer obstacles and is untrained in the art of magic. The first gripe I noticed was that early in the game, when magic was unavailable, it was extremely difficult to advance using the elf. Good weapon combat skills are essential until you find magical scrolls.

It's important to note that Clans is not your typical RPG. For example, you do not accumulate experience points in order to change skill levels. Attributes, such as agility and strength, are increased by obtaining objects and magical potions during the game. Also, Clans is limited in the number of items you can find. For instance, you won't see a slew of weapons or magical spells at your disposal. In fact, there are only 5 different spells that you can use in the game. Clans is a fantasy-based action / adventure where combat, exploration and puzzle solving are the ingredients. While that might seem like it's limiting the game, it does make for some strong points as well.

There are seven levels in the world of Clans. Your adventure starts at the castle gates and proceeds ever deeper into the heart of the Demon's lair. The world consists of a series of screens or rooms (unlike the scrolling view commonly found in games) that you navigate through by clicking on arrows located at different points in each screen. Hence, the action is centered to the geographical location you assume, and nothing further. However, creatures that you encounter in one screen will chase after you from screen to screen until you confront them, meaning if you see a creature you don't think you can kill, you can't just move back a screen and hope it'll disappear. This type of gameplay is certainly not new but it is limiting in many ways. You can't see what's slightly ahead of you or behind you without actually moving forward or back a screen.

Combat is in real time and it's here that one would certainly see the comparisons to Diablo. Fighting is heavy on mouse clicking and can become a pain after awhile. It didn't work in Diablo and it certainly doesn't work here either. There's very little strategy in combat either due to the lack of defensive positions one can take. The creature that swings it's weapon most will undoubtedly be victorious. Spells do add spice to combat, but I stated before there are only five of them in total. Fireball, Explosion, Confusion, Lightning Bolt, and Meteor Rain are the spells and each has five different levels of power. You bump up the power of spells by finding scrolls of the same spell type and combining them. I would have certainly preferred more spells in the game rather than different levels of power for each spell. There's a nice variety of creatutes to encounter as well, including goblins, orcs, elfs and mages. Interestingly enough, if you encounter two different kinds of creatures in a particular screen, they occasionally fight amongst themselves, making your job a little easier.

The levels are fairly short in length but each features a set of puzzles you have to solve in order to advance to the next realm. The puzzles range from intelligent to tedious. For example, the first level features a puzzle in which you have to move a set of barrels in order to open a door. That particular puzzle requires a little thought process to complete. On the other hand, a second puzzle consists of flipping a series of levers until you find the right combination to open a particular door. In this case, the puzzle is nothing more than an exercise in math. It's just a matter of trying each combination until you find the right one. I don't know if that qualifies as a puzzle, but it was frustrating none the less.

The graphics in Clans range from compelling to not-so-good. The environments, at times, were extremely well done. At other times, especially in the lava level, they were uninteresting to look at. The characters and creatures are all well animated and the spell effects were very nice as well. When looking at the screenshots, you might compare the graphics to the likes of Diablo. There seems to be more detail in the graphics for Diablo, but Clans is in no way unpleasant to look at. Neither take advantage of 3D accelerators, but they both get the job done.

The sound in Clans is a mixed bag (I love that term). The sound effects vary from swords clashing to trees falling. They don't really strike a blow for the game, but they don't hurt the game either. Clans features several voice effects from the character you control, the creatures you're attacking and the NPC's you encounter. Each creature seems to have a little something to say to you before they attack, and your character constantly has something to say upon killing them. Sayings like 'Hey, I'm not done with you yet' seem misplaced at times, especially when it's said after the creatures already dead. NPC voices are the best of the bunch, using that medieval accent that is so pleasant to listen too.

The interface is simple and easy to use. Keyboard shortcuts allow you to switch weapons and cast spells with the simple press of a button, and you can drink potions on the fly by pressing the spacebar. Automapping was well done as well as you can see exactly where you've been and where you'd like to go at the click of your mouse. You can also highlight rooms that you want to visit again in the future so you don't get lost so easily. Clans does not feature any multiplayer options.

I'm not a fan of Diablo. In fact, I thought it was one of the worst RPG titles I've ever played. It couldn't hold my attention for more than 2 minutes because it was the most repetitive gaming experience I, and my mouse, had ever been through. (Admittedly, I'm the minority when I say that) So when I heard Clans was a Diablo clone, that didn't bode well for it. Lucky for me, and Clans, it's not quite in the Diablo class. Clans doesn't come with a lot of fanfare, so it certainly qualifies as a 'sleeper of the year' candidate. It's not extremely complicated and it shouldn't be expected to produce a true RPG experience. It should be expected to give your mouse a workout and it could definitely use some gameplay tweaks. That aside, Clans is a role-playing action / adventure game that uses puzzle elements to produce a genuine gaming experience.

 

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Rating
70%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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