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Publisher: Gathering of Developers    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 96 MB    Hard Disk: 630 MB

December 22, 2000 | Michael Eilers

Click to enlarge
If you have read our preview of Rune, or glanced over our news coverage in the last few months, you know what this game is about; Iím not going to re-hash those facts or debate whether the depiction of Viking mythology is accurate or not. Rune is one of the first genuinely different titles to come down the pipe in some time, and I have found it is an acquired taste in many ways.

It has compelling strengths, marred by some minor weaknesses, but overall it was one of the most engrossing titles Iíve played in a long, long time. It is also an adventure game in the truest sense Ė you will use your mind as often as you use your sword, as the game is riddled with jumping puzzles, find-the-switch hunts and many more challenges.

From a design standpoint, Rune is a risky game. It uses the third-person perspective, which, while increasingly popular at the moment, has been mocked in the past as a console game cop-out. It is also based on the Unreal Tournament engine, which means titanic system requirements and poor performance on inadequate hardware. And it features a long, involved and sometimes frustrating solo game, in contrast to many titles these days that are quite short to appeal to the increasingly large non-hardcore gaming audience.

In my opinion Human Head took these risks and emerged triumphant. Visually, Rune is a stunner Ė some of the best texture, modeling and animation work I have ever seen went into this game. Aurally, the fascinating sound track and large collection of sound effects are absolutely spot-on; after playing for a while you canít imagine the game sounding any other way. In terms of performance, while Rune is indeed a challenge to even the most loaded G4, modifications to the Unreal Tournament engine do allow for really vast, organic levels of amazing detail. And in terms of physics, Iíve hardly seen better in this style of game.

Aside from a handful of annoying (but fixable) bugs and quirks, this is an extremely polished and speedy port of the PC original, which should be no surprise considering the source: Westlake Interactive, who also ported Unreal and UT. Although it looks, acts and feels like a PC title, it is all Mac underneath, and works with InputSprockets as well as both RAVE and Glide (3dfx) 3D cards. There is even a software renderer included (unlike titles based on the Q3A engine) but trust me, you donít want to use it. Graphics hardware is a necessity.

Melee Combat: Getting In the Swing of Things
Rune is a third-person title because it simply could not be anything else. In order to have close combat with swords, axes and maces, you simply have to be able to see your own weapon and shield clearly. Just a few moments maneuvering Ragnar around a level will make it very clear what a "right" choice Human Head made, and how fluidly and smoothly the camera control works.

Melee combat is totally different than typical shooter combat, and has a definite learning curve. While Ragnar does not have a huge number of moves, there are many subtle differences which change with your choice of weapon that do introduce an element of strategy. The weapon you choose to go against another opponent is often critical; some enemies can only be killed certain ways, and some are much more affected by one weapon than the others. Only time and experience will tell.

But a few minutes with the fleet-footed Ragnar and his sword should have any shooter fan grinning ear-to-ear; finally, a new challenge!


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