R.A.W. - REALMS OF ANCIENT WAR REVIEW
Classic dungeon crawling action.
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Dec 3, 2012 14:43 (Dec 3, 2012 14:43)
Written by: Alex
An Elysian Tail:
Wizarbox’s Realms of Ancient War (R.A.W.) takes inspiration from some of gaming’s most hallowed titles. With a visual style reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate, and gameplay lifted straight from Diablo (if Diablo were played with a controller), it certainly presents itself well, but can it capture the magic of its forefathers?
All imparted in a visual comic style R.A.W’s story tells of an ancient land, once peaceful, now ravaged by a war no one can remember the reasons for. In trying to bring peace to the land four kings meet at the Temple of Heroes. Soon after the meeting 3 of the kings return to their lands, weak and unable to talk, while the King of the North simply vanishes. Now 3 brave heroes seem to have their fates interlocked with these events, a warrior, a wizard and a rouge. They will uncover the mystery of what happened to the four kings, and fight to stop the Hordes of Nothingness.
It doesn’t win any prizes for original (or even well written) story, but it does manage to provide an excuse for pretty much everyone in the world to want to kill you, which is all you need for this classic loot-um-up.
The first skill to learn in R.A.W, as with all such games, is managing the huge groups of attacking enemies. Depending on which class you pick, and if you intend to play co-op, how this works will vary. From the ranged attacks of the wizard (requiring enemies be kept at significantly more than arms length) to the close combat warrior (who likes to smell his opponents BO), the classes are predictable, but their traditional roles at least make picking a starting character easy.
Personally I went with the rouge as, knowing I would mostly be playing offline having a mix of ranged and close combat seemed the best way to go.
Somewhat unexpectedly, R.A.W binds its attacks to the face buttons rather than the right stick, meaning attacks must be made in the same direction as movement. This prevents my usual tactic of leading opponents around the map while firing back at them. The result is a need to put distance between player and attacker, before turning to fight. It works well, but felt unnatural to me at first thanks to the dominance of twin stick games on XBLA titles.
Along side this run-and-turn technique is R.A.W’s generous auto-aim for ranged weapons. This quickly proves a necessity given the scale of the world making precise targeting a challenge. However, like the lack of twin stick controls, it can prove frustrating at points, in this case because with no actual lock-on exact aim is still needed to selects between targets.
One interesting twist on the R.A.W’s classic gameplay formula is the ability to possess some enemies. This offers very little mechanical difference to the game (working much like a turret sequence in CoD) but does mix up the looting action by allowing players to leap into larger enemies to fight.
The gameplay of R.A.W. sometimes teeters on fantastic (at least for me in my Diablo-less world). Unfortunately every time it reaches its greatest heights it is pulled back by its higher-level systems. Levelling happens relatively quickly (and indeed seems to speed up as the action progresses) and the powers on offer can mix up the gameplay. Up to four moves can be mapped at anyone time, from an eventual selection of around 12, and it is possible to swap on the fly between two load-outs. The problem is most of the time the standard attacks are all that is needed to control the enemy mobs, meaning there is no need to ever develop beyond the basics.
The loot also consistently falls a little short, seemingly lacking value. Enemies drop it constantly (why does a spider need cash?) and it is certainly fun to comb through it, but none of the items found ever compare to those bought at vendors. This leads to selling EVERTHING just to have enough cash for next merchant, as nothing else you encounter comes close. Basically the loot’s fine (if limited in name and appearance), but finding it was never exciting because it never improved on the items I already had.