Back in the late '80s, Hasbro's Hero Quest board game series bridged the gap between traditional dice-
An exact replica, the computer variation set you on a series of missions, but rather than a "dungeon master" negotiating your fate, the computer handled your 3D isometric decisions.
Data disks were added and awards were collected, but then everything went quiet on the fantasy front. Now, after two years in development, a whole new series of adventures with a totally revised play system are set for launch, the first being the Legacy of Sorasil.
The once great empire of Rhia lies dying under a vicious stranglehold of evil. The land is overrun with corruption and pestilence; harvests have failed, livestock lies diseased and dying, and even the most arcane of magics has failed to halt the spread of evil.
In a bid to stop the malignant curse which haunts the land, Alamon the Mystic, noble sage of Rhia, uses his skills and detects the source of power that is the root cause.
While unable to pinpoint its exact emanation, Alamon comes to the realisation that the evil can be eradicated, but it will take the power of several long lost artefacts which are rich in power.
Beyong the Shadow Mountains lies the land of Kolchotch. Once a place where sultans and demi-
This once royal country was home to two ancient talismans, each of which is capable of reversing some of the evil. Beyond Kolchoth, in the land of Garathor, lies the amulet of Tambor-Rin, a powerful healing tool and necessary for Alamons' plan.
To defeat the evil powers he also requires the might of the Oracle Stone. Legend has it that even deeper into the lands of darkness, in Iron-Wood Forest the stone lies.
Alamon realises the task in hand is no easy one, and sets out to find warriors and mages capable of overcoming such hardship.
After searching the length and breadth of the country, Alamon finds eight brave folk. However, only four can be selected to embark on the perilous journey.
While there aren't too many titles that have employed this 3D isometric viewpoint, a few software houses have attempted this style, some more effectively than others.
Probably the definitive title in this category is Krisalis's Shadowlands (Amiga Computing April '92) which was given the old Gamer Gold award. Others include the fairly average Legend and the outstanding Cadaver from the Bitmap Brothers.
Many of the influences in titles of this nature come from the original ideas of J R Tolkien. John Ronald Tolkien was an English writer born in 1892.
He created the fictional world of Middle Earth which featured two major works, his 1937 classic, The Hobbit, and his epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings written from 1954 to 1955.
His lands were populated by strange peoples like hobbits, dwarves and goblins. Tolkien's works developed to cult status in the '60s, and due to his popularity he had many imitators.
At Oxford University he was professor of Anglo Saxon from 1924-45, and Merton Professor of English until 1959. Tolkien died in 1973, without really knowing the full extent he would have on the worlds of role-
Like its predecessor, Legacy of Sorasil is viewed from a 3D isometric perspective. This method of display is not only effective for employing the game's Dungeons and Dragon style rules, but also gives it that extra edge in appearance.
The animation is well handled using clearly defined character sprites which leaves the user in no doubt as to who is who. While they're a rather cliched set of extras from a Tolkien book, the style suits the mood of the plot.
Each scenario places you in a different location, so you'll never find the landscapes repetitious or boring. For example, the first level places you in the gloom of a vampire's barrow, as opposed to further challenges which find you in forests, marshes and castles.
The legions of darkness are also in vast abundance and like the scrolling backdrops, vary from location to location. Likewise, all the varying denizens of evil have different combat animations.
Apart from physical combat animations, Legacy of Sorasil features a whole host of animations for use of magic. While limited in the early levels, as you progress to the higher stages the screen comes alive with various spells, both from your battle-
Legacy of Sorasil contains two very different ways in which the sound can be utilised. You can play to the accompaniment of a rustic tune or choose to use the FX option.
While the tune has a very dire dowdy edge to it, it does contain a great deal of atmosphere and mood that offsets the visual aspect of the game very nicely.
Conversely, you can opt to use the sound effects which give that extra dimension of reality to combat, as swords clash with a samples crunch and spells boom as they rain down on the recipient. Both aspects of the sonics within Legacy of Sorasil are very strong and work extremely well within their context.
While it's not a major criticism, it's my personal opinion that the sound would have been that bit more special if the programmers could have involved the two elements together.
However, this Utopian ideal may fall flat on its face as the standard of sound and sample independently is very high.
It's worth remembering that because of memory restrictions, had the two been integrated then the standard that has been reached may have dropped drastically.67%
The first venture in the Hero Quest Masters series is leaps and bounds ahead of its older brother, the original Hero Quest. The most obvious major improvement is the combat system.
In the original title when you're involved in a fight to the death the scene cut to a special combat screen. Now, when you're attacked or choose to fight a foe, the action continues in the environment you are exploring. This might seem trivial, but adds both continuity and atmosphere.
Really, there are that many changes from the original that the two are beyond comparison, and you can certainly tell that it's been in development for two years.
Although Legacy of Sorasil is split down into ten different adventures, each one relates to an overall plot. This works exceptionally well, as your characters develop and are awarded extra points to their various attributes.
Legacy is also very easy to pick up, using a point-
This combination of D&D style rules blended in with the visual aspects of combat and spell-