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Publisher: MacPlay    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: 601 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 180 MB

HeXen II
November 21, 2002 | Richard Hallas

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Quartet for the end of time
At the outset of the game you must choose your player class from one of four different categories: Assassin, Crusader, Paladin or Necromancer. Each class has its own set of abilities which will affect the way you play the game, not to mention its own set of four unique weapons.

The Assassin is adept at stealth attacks, can move almost silently and becomes almost invisible when standing in shadows. Her weapons consist of a katar (dagger), a hand crossbow for range attacks, explosive grenades and the Staff of Set. This high-level weapon can either fire magical energy (with the ability to charge up the power by delaying the shot) or can let loose razor-sharp chains.

The Crusader is a holy fighter with the ability sometimes to heal himself or benefit from the power of fallen enemies. His weapons are a war hammer, an ice mace, a meteor staff and the powerful Lightbringer. This most powerful weapon emits a shaft of holy light which illuminates the surroundings and is quite intriguing to watch as it reflects in zig-zag patterns off walls. The Crusader is a defensive character who concentrates on range-attack weapons; only the war hammer is intended for close-up combat.

The Necromancer is the weakest fighter of the four classes, and focuses on range-attacks. He can collect the souls of slain victims for use in his own magic, and can also gain health from enemies he's destroyed. His weapons are a sickle, magic missiles, explosive bone shards and a powerful Raven Staff. This staff can either fire a shaft of energy which splits and spreads out as it travels, or can call forth a flock of ravens to attack foes.

The Paladin is also a holy fighter, but more hands-on than the Crusader. As the strongest warrior of the four classes, his weapons focus on hand-to-hand combat. They include gauntlets, a vorpal sword, a powerful axe with both close-combat and range attack facilities, and the ultimate Purifier which fires shards and fireballs. The Paladin is adept at moving and fighting underwater, and can sometimes avert death, instead gaining superhuman abilities for a time when receiving the blow that would otherwise kill him.

For each character class, it's necessary to collect two separate pieces before the most powerful of the four weapons can be assembled and used. Also, as you progress through the game, your character will gain in experience and abilities, resulting in more powerful weapons, greater health and so on.

Hexen II features a large number of objects and power-ups to collect, which add a lot of interest to the gameplay. Armour, in particular, comes in various forms, but which is useful to you will depend on the character class you're currently playing. The usual health and magic power-ups are of course present: healing vials and more powerful quartz flasks for health, and two types of mana crystals, blue and green, each in 'small' and 'large' sizes; these are used for powering weapons.

More interesting are the other kinds of artefacts: the rarer types that you can carry with you and use whenever you require them. The most mundane of these are torches for lighting dark areas and health and mana bonuses which take you back up to full strength. However, there are various other more unusual ones that make the game more interesting.

Perhaps the most important is the Tome of Power, a magical book that makes a reappearance from earlier games in the series. Using this will enhance your character considerably for a time, and is the way to get a lot of extra power from your weapons. All weapons will be supercharged to some degree by the Tome of Power, but the highest-level weapons benefit the most, and their behaviour may be enhanced or changed completely. For instance, the Crusader's Lightbringer will fire three shafts of light rather than the usual one, whereas the Tome invokes the ravens from the Necromancer's Raven Staff, replacing the usual energy beam.

Other power-ups have effects like transporting you randomly to another location; speeding you up; protecting you from missiles; making you invisible or invulnerable for a time; or calling up assistants to fight briefly with you. One of the power-ups, the Glyph of the Ancients, behaves quite differently depending on which class of character is using it: for the Crusader it becomes a crawling mine whilst for the Assassin it becomes a bomb attached to a magical trip-wire.

Players of previous games in the series will recall amusingly silly power-ups: Heretic's pseudo-Easter Egg was the Morph Ovum which when fired, turned your enemies into clucking chickens. Hexen II follows on in the grand tradition with the Seal of the Ovinomancer, which turns your opponent into a sheep. Unfortunately, you won't find it possible to use this feature on your more powerful adversaries, such as Eidolon himself.

Hexen II also features a number of rings which can be worn to gain extra powers for a limited time. They allow you to fly, breathe underwater, regenerate health gradually, and reflect a proportion of projectiles fired at you.


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