Dragon Wars logo Amiga Joker Hit

Verkehrte Softwarewelt: Eigentlich hätten wir ja weit eher mit der Umsetzung von "Bard's Tale 3" auf den Amiga gerechnet, aber wiedermal hat der Nachfolger den Vorläufer überholt!

Es ist zwar nicht hundertprozentig korrekt, hier von Vorläufer und Nächfolger zu sprechen, aber da die Drachenkriege im grossen und ganzen nach demselben Muster gestrickt sind wie die Erzählungen des Barden, kann man sich das schon mal erlauben.

Worum geht's nun bei Dragon Wars? Ganz weit draussen im Weltall zieht der Stern Sirius seine Bahn, umrundet vom Planeten Oceana. Oceana - der Name klingt schon so feucht, und tatsächlich besteht das Ding überwiegend aus heissem Wasser. Darauf schwimmen etliche kleine Inseln herum, und eine davon schauen wir uns jetzt etwas näher an: Sie hört auf den Namen Dilmun und herbergt alle wichtigen Einrichtungen dieser wässerigen Welt - alle Kulturstätten, Wallfahrtsorte und zahllose wilde Bestien. Die Hafenstadt von Dilmun heisst Porgatory und dort ist soeben ein Schiff mit Abenteuern angekommen. Der Empfang fällt ein wenig unfreundlich aus: Die Stadtwache verhaftet die gesamte Besatzung, jeder zehnte wird den Drachen zum Frass vorgeworfen, die übrigen landen nackt und ausgeplündert in den Slums von Purgatory...

Rache ist Blutwurst kann man da nur sagen! Mit anderen Worten, es ist hoch an der Zeit, sich eine schlagkräftige kleine Party zusammenzustellen. Vier Mitglieder darf sie haben, dazu können noch maximal drei Nichtspielercharaktere aufgenommen werden. Wer sich seine Charaktere selbst erschaffen will, hat dafür eine Auswahl von 20 Fähigkeiten zur Verfügung, aus denen er sich die passenden aussuchen kann, Faule greifen einfach auf die vorgefertigten Spielfiguren zurück.

Mit seiner Truppe zaubert, kämpft und rätselt man sich dann durch ein Rollenspiel, das ganz im vertrauten "Bard's Tale"-Stil gehalten ist. Es gibt über 60 Monstertypen, mehr als 65 Zaubersprüche aus verschiedenen Magiearten - und zwei Features, die den Spielfluss erheblich beschleunigen: Man kann sich für immer wiederkehrende Folgen von Tastaturkommandos (bis zu zehn) eigene Makros erstellen, die anschliessend einfach mit den Funktionstasten aufgerufen werden. Ausserdem darf man hier Block und Bleistift beruhigt zur Seite legen, denn die Automapping-Funktion besdorgt das Kartenzeichnen besser und schneller.

Die Präsentation hat sich gegenüber der C64 - bzw. de PC-Version deutlich verbessert: Die extra neu gezeichneten Bilder haben jetzt 32 Farben, was besonders bei den Gegnern einen sichtbaren Unterschied macht. Der Sound hat sogar noch stärker zugelegt, die (Stereo-) Musikuntermalung ist oberstes Amiga-Niveau. Die Steuerung klappt sowohl mit der Maus als auch mit dem Keyboard vorzüglich. Lobenswerterweise wird auch kaum nachgeladen, dafür müssen die zwei Disks öfters mal gewechselt werden, sofern kein Zweitlaufwerk vorhanden ist.

Also eine gute Umsetzung dieses ausgezeichneten Rollenspiels - man sollte allerdings schon einige Erfahrungen mit "Bard's Tale" gesammelt haben, sonst wird's happig! (mm)



Dragon Wars logo CU Screenstar

Mark Patterson starts our RPG special with the latest release from the States.

Fans starved of RPGs at last can sight with relief. From the sun-baked climes of California comes Dragon Wars from Interplay, the makers of Neuromancer and the Bard's Tale series.

But this time round Interplay don't give players a choice of character class. Instead, there's five stats - Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Spirit and Power - plus fifty points to distribute between them. Pile points upon Strength, Dexterity and Power and you'll get a rough, tough figher; go for Intelligence and Spirit for a magic user. It's always possible to balance the two styles, although you'll end up with a bit of a damp squib.

Points can also be spent acquiring some of the twenty six different skills for a character. These include lock picking, first aid, climbing and various weapon and magic skills. A system such as this can seem inflexible; there's over a hundred computer-controlled characters which would come in really handy if you could select them.

The first location is the town of Purgatory. It's here that wizards are equipped with spells and fighters with weapons. There are few problems here for the experienced adventurer. Finding the portal to the next level is simple, although taking time to explore the whole town will yield many useful items that make the game easy on the next couple of levels.

Overall, the puzzles aren't as obscure as in previous Interplay products; so it's quite easy to progress through the first couple of levels. The only problems come from wandering monster groups, which are invariably stronger than your party when they're first encountered. Quite a few original enemy character classes have been introduced with bags of new tricks up their sleeves.

And a few original options have been included in the combat system, too. You get the chance to disarm opponents, strike them with a doubly-powerful blow (though this is less accurate) or block or dodge their attack.

But on the downside, the instruction manual suffers from an acute lack detail. For instance, the line "refer to command card" appears far too often. The command card is a small, eight page pamphlet detailing loading instructions and option keys, and it's not very enlightening. Conquering the rudiments of the game play is the first big challenge...

Should you choose to listen to the music (which is rather nice), be prepared for a ridiculous amount of disk swapping, unless you have two drives. The scenery graphics are pretty much the norm for Interplay - a first-person, perspective window is used for navigation, showing walls and buildings.

When you encounter an NPC (Non Playing Character - computer controlled creature) an animated picture of it is called up in the navigation window, serving no other purpose than to let you know what your next victim looks like.

Dragon Wars is almost exactly what I was expecting. It's absorbing and well plotted, even if it does seem fairly dated. A lot of the routines have appeared in previous Interplay products, and although they're a hallmark of kinds, it would have been nice if they'd been brought up to date. A high class RPG nevertheless, with a few avoidable faults.


RPGese
Understanding RPG's can be very confusing for people unfamiliar with the game style. So here's a brief run down on some of the more common terms.
Strength - This determines the amount of additional damage a character can cause with a weapon. In some games you might also be required to use your strength to move objects.
Dexterity - Speed. The higher your character's dexterity the harder he is to hit, and the more chance he stands of walloping the bad guys.
Intelligence - Mainly for magicians. High intelligence is essential for spell casting.
Armour Class - Your defence rating.
Experience Points - Every time you win a battle or accomplish a task you usually receive experience points, which help ake a character stronger.
NPC - None Player Character. Any computer controlled being.
Hit Points - A character's health rating. If this falls to zero it's the end.


Dragon Wars logo

Interplay/Electronic Arts, Amiga £29.99

After what seems like ages Interplay have produced a new RPG for the Amiga. Dragon Wars (C64 version: 90%, Issue 58) supports characters from the Bard's Tale series, and so it should because you could have called this game Bard's Tale 4 and nobody would have raised an eyebrow.

You and your party are off to find Dilmun, a legendary city. You know the sort of thing - pavements paved with gold, buses run on time, etc. However, after being shipwrecked you are imprisoned on suspicion of spellcasting, a habit which has been recently outlawed by the dastardly King Drake. You begin the game in Purgatory from which you must escape.

Interplay have taken the Bard's Tale system and upgraded selected elements in an effort to update it. The most important (but probably the most invisible) change is the introduction of an intricate plot.

Interplay's Brian Fargo once told me that you could fully describe Bard's Tale 1 in about ten seconds (he did so as well!). Dragon Wars introduces a much better 'story, utilising more character interaction, strange clues and so on. The manual contains paragraphs which you are directed to by the program at certain points in the story.

The combat is improved with quite complex choices on ranged combat, type of attack and defence. Spells have been extended to include more spell categories. You have no need to learn a massive spellbook, though. In order to be a wizard you select from one of four different types of magic: High, Low, Sun and Druid. Indeed, the spells must be learnt by finding scrolls with the spell inscribed on them. Furthermore, in order to cast certain spells, you must decide how many points of power to put into them. Therefore, the game includes much more resource management than most fantasy games. It means that even the lowest spell never becomes obsolete. The stronger the magician gets, the mightier the spell has the potential of being.

Attributes have been redesigned by including skills (bandaging, etc) and knowledge of various lore, such as forest and mountain lore. There is also an excellent 3-D automapping option, one of the best I've ever seen.

The end product is an RPG which is far better balanced than the Bard's Tale series ever was. Even though the scenery looks a little false on occasion and the walls seem paper thin at times, the character animation is much improved. Graphics as a whole are very good with sound and spot effects enhancing the atmosphere. The minimalist reports (character stats, etc) do not, though. Couldn't anybody think up a more presentable report than black writing on a plain white background?

Nevertheless, Dragon Wars is an enjoyable romp, delivering a good helping of humour.