Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Cavan Dunne

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Raven/Activision
Price Range: $10-20
Learning curve time: 1 hr.
Age level: 17+
ESRB Rating: Teen
System Requirements: P133 with 3D card

Genre: Action/adventure
Christian Rating: 2 of 5
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 2 of 5
Adult Content: 4 of 5
   (barely present)

Hey, it's Quake II in tights… well, almost.

Box art for 'Heretic 2' The approach to Heretic II is refreshing to say the least. Raven has managed to avoid the predictable first-person shoot-'em-up associated with the Quake variants and have gone for a third person view. This cleverly avoided direct competition with games that were already on the market such as Half-Life and Tomb Raider's.

While Lara seems to spend most of her adventures running around jumping from ledge to ledge and solving puzzles, Raven have taken Heretic II down a slightly different road turning it into an action-packed shoot-'em-up with a minimum of puzzle solving and some great lighting and water effects. After Heretic I and Hexen, Raven seem to have learned their lesson and done away with the tedious and sometimes confusing hub-based system and gone for a linear level design.

The plot revolves around your character, Corvus, who returns to his people to find the city streets filled with noxious green plague vapours that cause insanity and then death to any unfortunate enough to inhale it. Most are warped and twisted into a blood-crazed rage that dives them to assault nearly any that they encounter (this is disturbingly a good reason to give them a battering and try out some of Corvus' many moves). Being the hero that he is - and due to the fact that he catches it himself - Corvus heads off to rid the land of this magical plague.

Screenshot from 'Heretic 2'
Controlling Corvus can be a bit of a handful starting off, not because of awkward camera movement, which Heretic II handles unusually well, but because of his huge range of moves. Corvus is capable of doing back flips, forward rolls, climbing techniques, and the various types of jumps will initially make you wish you had a third hand, but as you get into the game control becomes easier with practice. Weapons such as the staff, when not being used to bludgeon the nearest monster to death, can be used to extend the distance Corvus is capable of jumping. Starting off with the training level is a good idea as it will teach you everything you need to know about controlling Corvus, learning the interface, and understanding the weapons system.

The weapons inventory and defensive spells are well thought out and provide the chance to show off the game's impressive, screen illuminating lighting effects, despite the use of magic: everything from the meteor swarm, which causes meteors to fly in an orbital motion around Corvus, to the phoenix bow which is capable of firing fiery arrows explode into a conflagration of fire and shrapnel in the shape of a phoenix. In fact, the only weapon I was disappointed with was the staff. Yes, the special effects were nice and got more impressive each time Corvus encountered a Blade shrine which also made the staff a much deadlier weapon - the weapon is permanent and cumulative, so as Corvus finds these shrines he becomes more proficient and deadly with his staff. But because the staff proves to be such a pivotal weapon in the game I felt it was a pity it was limited to just two fairly basic attack moves.

The graphics are impressive even today - although that, for me is perhaps the fact that I mostly play N64 and PSX, but nothing compared to what games like Quake III and even Tomb Raider Chronicles are offering on the PC. Effects are great and on my system with a Geforce256 it runs at over 60fps consistently, and it still ran very well on our old P133 with two Voodoo 2 cards installed. The level design is atmospheric and the attention to detail is good, despite the datedness of it all.

Heretic II is by no means perfect - the most disappointing and perhaps frustrating aspect to the game being the whole multi-player experience. One of the problems I experienced during net play was the game freezing for 10 seconds while Heretic 2 sorted out some network problem. This was annoying to say the least.

The third person view leaves you feeling removed from the action and takes away a lot of tension and fun out of getting that crucial frag to win you the game (presuming you're a responsible adult that is!) Still, Heretic II is a very playable and enjoyable one-player experience and stands out from the rest.

The use of magic is worrying though and killing people, even those turned into monsters is also disturbing. The game is very high in violence and magic, so if these things disturb you, do not play it, and children should not play it at all. A worthwhile game if you can accept these things as nothing more than entertainment and aren't too offended by it; keep in mind this game was probably made by people who don't believe in good nor bad magic, so they think it's okay to include in games. But be wary.

Year of Release—1998

I just found this game in the local bargain bin, and man, am I impressed. Even in the year 2001 when such classic games as Deus Ex and Baldurs Gate II are released, Heretic II really shines! The game is very fun, in a linear sort of way. I thought the author of the original review didn't do justice to the game this really is. He dissed on the third person element, which he claims in multiplayer removes you from the “adrenaline” rush of getting that kill. I say it adds to it. The whole purpose of this element is to let the player see through Corvus's eyes, and it lends an almost cinematic quality to the game. Speaking of cinematic, boy that Corvus can perform some nifty tricks! I've spent countless periods of time just watching Corvus perform backflips and front flips. It is truly amazing how the developers did this game! There is a high level of violence and talk of mixing potions and usage of magic, but none of it is that offensive and the violence is never too gory. All in all I'd wholeheartedly recommend this game to the average 13+ year old who enjoyed the first Tomb Raider but is looking for more depth. My Ratings: [5]
   —Dru, age 14

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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