Bane of the Cosmic Forge. (computer game ) (evaluation)
by Barry Brenesal
How do you destroy a pen whose every scribble becomes instantly true? First you must find it, and in Bane of the Cosmic Forge, that's what you'll do--or the land will remain forever cursed.
This latest role-playing fantasy from Sir-Tech combines the old and the new, mixing familiar Wizardry story and character-generation elements with new visuals and an updated user interface. Your party of six heroes once again features a mix of alien species and talents, now enhanced by a larger pool of genetic material that includes cat, lizard, dog, and dragon races, as well as the usual dwarves, elves, hobbits, and human vagrants. Each character has a colorful screen of information displaying a portrait, health, gold, carrying capacity, skill levels, items in knapsack, and weapons/armor in use. Good news: You no longer have to type in a five-or six-letter spell-casting abbreviation that resembles XyWrite's mnemonic commands. Each spell's full name and point cost are displayed during battle.
The old wire-frame, two-color Wizardry caves are gone, replaced by handsome stone corridors with animated, flickering torches. A few deft touches are impressive, such as the sculpted fountains, locked alcoves, and treasure caches. The game's developers didn't take these far enough, however, since the same walls and objects serve for all interiors, regardless of appropriateness. I found only one deviation: complete darkness, which the game substitutes whenever the accompanying text describes outdoor environments.
Monster encounters are animated. Individual groups approach or retreat, their members in turn striking different poses and wielding impressive weaponry. Though none of this is functional in any arcade sense--you can't aim a projectile at a momentarily parrying bushwacher--it does enhance the overall gaming reality. Watching monsters vanish one by one as your spells, swords, and missiles take effect makes personal satisfaction a reward in your crusade against evil.
Saving games in progress is no longer limited to the Inn, nor would that be convenient, given the increased size and scope f this adventure. Bane resembles past Wizardry products in other respects, though. Finding hidden passages and completing arcane puzzles are of prime importance, and I found the accompanying notes excellent. Overall, Bane of the Cosmic Forge is an attractive addition to the computerized role-playing fantasy scene.