The Wheel of Time books have spawned a generation of followers, which I am one of them. I was so pleased when I heard that they were going to make a game of this wonderful series of books. But the only thing that I was worried about was that the images I had created in my mind for what the characters would be completely different from the game. But now onto the features.
Wheel of Time uses an enhanced version of the Unreal engine to bring Robert Jordan's world to life. In addition to the Unreal engine's core capabilities like 24-bit color (with MMX), multiple dynamic (and colored) light sources, complex geometry, smooth character animation, real moving/rotating brushes, seamless level transition, and a powerful scripting language, they have endowed the engine with a host of WoT-specific effects. The particle system they created for Wheel of Time makes for some of the coolest explosions and smoke effects you've ever seen. In addition, they went in and provided support for weather effects like rain, snow and wind.
Installation, Settings and Intro
The Wheel of Time comes on 2 CD's and is a breeze to install. You get the choice of what bits you want to install which is always an added bonus. After the game is installed you have to put in CD 2 to run the game. Once the game starts you are given an excellent introduction that really does sum up the Wheel of Time books quite well. It isn't to difficult to understand if you have never picked up a Robert Jordan book either.
To change the video mode you can either access it though the Start menu or you can load up the game and change the controls from inside the game. By using the Escape key you get to choose Tutorial, New Game, Load Game and Save Game. the Tutorial is very comprehensive and shows you pretty much all aspects of things you might have to do in the game from swimming, shooting weapons, using various items like ter'angreal and how to build traps and alarms that will be used in the multiplayer game. The only thing that I did notice is that Quicktime 4 used in games look very blocky and doesn't look that good, but that might just be my setup.
The game is based a lot on the books, but doesn't directly conflict with the books which will make avid fans of the series quite pleased. The game itself uses the normal FPS setup for the keys using the mouse and keyboard as the default. When each level starts you get a quicktime video segment telling you what has happened and then the level gives you a screen telling you what your goals are for this level. After the first few levels and picking up your jaw from the beautiful looking visuals you notice how clever the levels actually are.
The other joy as well is that instead of creating new areas to explore in the Jordan universe they have taken places and people out of the actual books and transferred it into the game. Now you actually get to see what The White Tower or Shadar Logoth or even the Fortress of the Forsaken looks like! I guess the only real downside of the game is that you only get to play Elayna, but do have the benefits of having a Warder (sort of like a bodyguard that likes kicking the enemy about) around you later in the game.
The other thing that you will notice about the game, besides the visuals is the use of effects that can really add to the gameplay. You might be moving down a corridor in Shadar Logoth and hear a Trolloc killing something, or a mist surrounding the city making it more difficult to see what is going on to far in front of you. With this lethal combination of sounds and visuals you really start to feel the fear that was always intended and given in the Robert Jordan series of books.
Places in the Game
Here is a listing of places and people that you will come across in the game:
The White Tower
Late in the Trolloc Wars, an army of Trollocs, Myrddraal, Dreadlords and Darkfriends camped within the ruins of the city. They were never seen again. Since that day, no Trolloc or Shadowspawn will willingly set foot in Shadar Logoth.
Outpost of the Children of the Light
Fortress of the Forsaken
Graphics, Sound & Music
Robert Berry is a product of the classic/art rock age. From his own home page, "San Francisco BAMMIE award-winner (Best Independent Producer), Berry is best known as a progressive rock veteran who struck gold in 1988 as the frontman for Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer (keys and drum wizards of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer) with that band's (3 to the Power of 3) hit single Talkin' Bout on Geffen Records." He's also collaborated with numerous other artists, such as Steve Howe and Sammy Hagar. In his own album Pilgrimage to a Point and the Jethro Tull tribute album To Cry You a Song, he contributed all vocals and instrumentation.
Lief Sorbye is the leader of Tempest, an established Celtic-rock band with a dedicated following and five albums (a sixth was just recently recorded). Born and raised in Oslo, Norway, he formed Tempest after spending eight years touring and recording with the acoustic band, Golden Bough. Lief has also recorded two critically acclaimed solo albums. In addition to being Tempest's lead singer and flute player, Lief also plays his own trademark double-neck electric mandolin.
These two musicians have collaborated before (Robert Berry has produced two of Tempest's albums, adding keyboard on some tracks), but never on a project like this. The digital soundtrack of The Wheel of Time has delivered every note perfectly and represent the traditional acoustic instruments as they were meant to be heard. Supporting their work is a team of composers, all very experienced in the computer gaming arena and all very talented.
Overall a pretty good release from Legend and GT Interactive. It has successfully captured the atmosphere and ideas that were originally portrayed in the books. Even if you haven't ever picked up a Robert Jordan book, it doesn't leave you in the cold and makes you feel welcome. To people that have read the books then it is a dream come true. The only downside might be that people that have read the books might not want to play the game because they don't want to ruin their image of what the places and characters should look like.
Direct 3D Patch can be downloaded from - ftp://ftp.gtinteractive.com/pub/games/wheeloftime/patches/WoTD3DPatch.exe
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