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Holiday Buyer's Guide 2002
December 16, 2002 | IMG Staff

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Role-Playing Games That Don’t Suck
Michael “Christmas Queen” Phillips

Role-playing games are my absolute favorite games, as they tend to enthrall the player like no other.

Icewind Dale
MacPlay’s Icewind Dale is the tale of one group’s journey into the treacherous Spine of the World Mountains in order to thwart an heretofore-unknown ancient and dreadful evil. Using a modified version of the original Baldur’s Gate engine, making for a visually appealing game that will still run nicely on mid-range Macs.

In terms of gameplay, Icewind Dale is an epic adventure featuring an intriguing story, dozens of graphically rich locations, a plethora of weapon and armor types, a multitude of powerful priest and wizard spells, 150 monster types, including Giants, intense combat situations and snow, lots of snow. The game’s story begins in the small fishing village of Easthaven. Winter has been unusually cruel this year, supply caravans are scarce and matters only look to get worse. Furthermore, the neighboring town of Kuldahar has been undergoing strange attacks, residents disappearing in the dead of night, leaving only the darkness behind to bear silent witness to their grim fate. Evil is certainly afoot, something must be done. Enter Hrothgar, self-appointed protector of Easthaven and retired adventurer. While having a mug of ale in the local tavern, Hrothgar notices a band of weather worn travelers warming by a roaring fire, by the look of their gear, he can tell they’ve seen their fair share of dastardly foes. Hrothgar has been called by the Archdruid Arundal to assist in protecting his embattled home. Thus, Hrothgar decides to enlist the aid of these adventurers for the investigation of the tumult at Kuldahar. Now, the stage is set for the player to begin their journey.

The game uses a clean point & click user-interface through which players may control up to 6 characters at a time. Now, 6 characters may seem like a lot to handle, especially during combat. However, Icewind Dale allows players to pause the action in mid-game and issue combat orders. This allows the player to quickly and easily create battle strategies. Speaking of combat, that’s what Icewind Dale is all about. This game is truly an old fashioned dungeon crawl.

With its enjoyable story, moderate system requirements and rich gameplay, Icewind Dale is a great gift for any RPG fan.

First-Person Shooters 0wN j00
Andy Largent and Matt Diamond

No One Lives Forever (Andy Largent)
Colorful characters, incredibly creative gameplay, and a new Bond movie should make the just released No One Lives Forever a sure-fire hit for MacPlay this holiday season. The game is a First-Person Shooter often compared with the infamous Half Life due to its extremely well rounded nature and overall polish. No One Lives Forever has been some time in coming to the Mac since its PC release a few years ago, but excepting a few areas, there is little reason this title doesn't belong under the tree of an FPS fan on your shopping list.

No One Lives Forever delves deep into the same pool of super-spy material which made the Austin Powers movies such a success. The game contains large amounts of James Bond parody, while also mixing in some more serious -- if not over-the-top -- dramatic scenarios (and much less toilet humor). One other major difference is that the title puts a woman in the role of protagonist. You play Cate Archer, a beautiful and deadly British spy who works for an organization called Unity. If you picture Laura Croft with a miniskirt, go-go boots and a personality, you've got Cate Archer. Your role is to dismantle the group of evildoers belonging to an outfit known only by the acronym, "H.A.R.M."

One of the most impressive features of the game is, without a doubt, the writing. No One Lives Forever takes a campy tongue-in-cheek attitude and runs with it. The main characters develop through series of witty (and often nasty) remarks during cut scenes and special scenarios. Unlike many games though, No One Lives Forever also remembers there are many more secondary characters on the screen during actual gameplay, and they decided to let them in on the fun as well. As you sneak around the levels, you'll often hear hilarious conversations of enemies and non-player characters that put other games' generic statements like, "did you hear something?" to shame.


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