previews\ Dec 2, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Blade & Sword - PC - Preview

Entries in the Diablo-style action-RPG category have been pretty slim to date, but Whiptail Interactive hopes to change that with its latest entry into the genre, Blade and Sword.  From the preview build, it’s pretty safe to say that Blade and Sword draws more than a little inspiration from Blizzard’s hugely popular game. However, Blade and Sword does feature key innovations not found in Blizzard’s action RPG juggernaut, and should be a title that fans of the genre should keep a keen eye out for this season.


Blade and Sword takes place in ancient China, and draws upon a fair amount of Chinese lore.  The building and weapon designs reflect the period well, and the monsters have a certain Chinese mythological flair to them.  The game’s 40 levels will carry your character as he or she fights their way through hordes of monsters in a variety of different environments, like swamps and caves (all of which should feel very familiar to Diablo fans).  You have three distinct characters to choose from, all of which fall neatly into the standard character mold for action-RPGs.  You have the “strong-but-slow” barbarian type, the “quick-but-weak” ninja type, and the “well-rounded-jack-of-all-trades” average joe type.


From the get go, it’s pretty obvious that the developers drew a lot from Diablo.  You start out in the middle of a town, allowing your character to go around and converse with the townspeople, giving you a background story on the land as well as a chance to purchase some much needed items like potions before you trek out into the wilderness.  The HUD display is a lot like Diablo’s.  On the left side, a pseudo “Yin-Yang” lets you know how much health and chi you have (chi in this game is what powers your special moves).  In the middle is some spots for potions should you decide to hotkey them. Fighting your enemies feels a bit like Diablo as well, although your character can use unique kung fu moves that they earn by gaining levels.


Where Blade and Sword sets itself apart from Diablo is the use of a combo system.  When fighting, your character can string weapon attacks together with kung fu moves for that extra kick (pardon the pun).  The interface for creating these special combo strings is fairly easy to use, and you should be taking down droves of bad guys in no time.


The graphics in Blade and Sword are very simple, but they get the job done.  The look is about on par with Diablo II, meaning it won’t tax your system even if it isn’t quite up to the snuff of the modern crop of games. The character sprites look quite good, although the animations are a tad simplistic.  The environments are also pretty good, although if you are looking for a game with 3D graphics that will simply blow you away, I can tell you that Blade and Sword is not that game.


The music was very good in the preview version, with a very distinct Chinese feel and authentic Chinese instruments.  The sound effects were good as well, with bone crunches as your character pummels opponents and the occasional grunt and war cry.  Aside from that, however, there were no voice effects in town as you talked to people.


Blade and Sword may not dazzle you with amazing graphics, but if you enjoyed Diablo, it’s safe to assume that you should check this game out when it hits shelves this month.




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