|Publisher: MacPlay Genre: Action|
|Min OS X: Not Supported CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz RAM: 64 MB|
Despite its name, Heretic II is actually the fourth game in the Heretic series. The original Heretic was a first-person shooter in the grand old Doom tradition, and its sequel, Hexen, followed along in the same style, but added some innovations of its own such as a 'hub' system of linked levels between which the player could move freely. These games were released years ago for the Mac, but the next two, Hexen II and Heretic II, took their time to arrive. Both are now available, though, in MacPlay's Value Series.
Heretic II makes a significant departure by being in the third person and putting a lot more emphasis on character control. It also has much better graphics than its predecessors, being based on the Quake II engine.
It's been over three years since Heretic II came out on the PC, so a Mac conversion hasn't exactly appeared in a rush. But now it's here, it works with both Mac OS X and Mac OS 8/9, and it has been issued at a budget price. Of course, it would be hard to justify releasing such a relatively old game at full price, but the fact is that Heretic II has a lot to commend it, so its affordable price tag is particularly welcome.
StorylineIn terms of its story, Heretic II does in fact follow on from Heretic; the Hexen games were in effect offshoots. You take the part of Corvus, a member of the Sidhe (fairy) race. And if you think of gossamer wings and tinkly little bells whenever the word 'fairy' is mentioned, revise your preconceptions! Corvus is lean, mean and tough.
Corvus is the eponymous Heretic: he rebelled against the laws of D'sparil, the evil Serpent Rider in the original Heretic game which finished at the point of D'sparil's defeat. But in Heretic II it is revealed that D'sparil cursed Corvus with his dying breath, condemning him to wander the Outer Worlds with no means of returning home to Parthoris. Corvus was left stranded, equipped with only his fighting staff and a Tome of Power, a sentient book infused with the life force of a seraph woman.
So, while Corvus wanders aimlessly for years, the Tome gradually increases in power until it finally becomes able to reveal itself to Corvus and teach him the use of some basic magic. Eventually, it discovers a way home and takes Corvus back. But alas and alack! All is far from well in the land of Parthoris. Evil still rules, D'sparil's forces have been able to pervert the natural order of things, and the population has succumbed to a mind-altering plague. It's up to Corvus, the Heretic, to embark on a series of quests to cleanse his people and lift the curse from his land.
Actually, trite though the story may sound from my brief summary, it's more interesting and involving than most of the storylines in games of this sort, and it is at least maintained coherently throughout by use of occasional cut-scenes and brief voiceovers.