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Reviewed by Michael Gillgannon Normally I let other people review games and take what they say with a grain of salt. However, the general level of hostility directed at Hexen prompts me to retaliate, I think it's a much better game than most people are giving it credit for. Hexen, of course, is a Doom clone, and uses the Doom engine with numerous refinements. For one thing, you can look up and down; for another, you can jump -- not insane, Herculean jumps like Turok, but jumps nevertheless. You can also fly if equipped with the right object. Hexen has something of an RPG flavor in that you inhabit one of three character classes -- fighter, mage, cleric -- and collect objects along the way. As in Doom, you gain health by walking over some health potions, but unlike Doom you add the more powerful potions (and other items) to inventory and use them when you need them. Most of the weapons (there are 12 in all but only four per class) are powered by two types of "mana" which you walk over. The weapon you start out with doesn't use mana. Unlike most games, the weapon you start out with is extremely useful throughout the game. (At least the mage's weapon is; I haven't played the other classes yet.) True, it's a pea shooter in terms of power, but being a ranged weapon, it's awfully handy. What sets Hexen apart from most games of its type is the complexity and interactivity of the levels. Briefly, there are five "chapters" and an epilogue. The epilogue of course is where you off the big bosses and save the world. The chapters each have a kind of hub at the center (I'm speaking metaphorically here, not geographically) with various levels springing out of the hub. Actions you commit in one level solve part of the larger puzzle and often open up areas in other levels. It can be fairly complex, but it's also ingenious. The level designs and interlocking puzzles are really very well done. This is not a quote -unquote mindless shooter. You have to use your noggin to get anywhere in this game. This will not be to everyone's taste. There is a lot going on in many of the levels -- spinning columns, crushing ceilings, squeezing walls, drop-away floors, fireball-spewing frescoes, the whole bit. There was some of this in Doom 64 but there's a great deal more of it in Hexen. It's not a static place at all. (By the way, if you thought monsters crashing through walls was an invention of Turok, think again.) How does it look? To me it looks fine. Keep in mind that this is a four -year-old PC game prettified a bit for the N64. They didn't rebuild it from the ground up. I honestly believe some of the levels look better than some sections of Turok, which, let's face it, is pretty monotonous at times. (Can we spell column jumping, people?) No, Hexen isn't Star Fox, but it's a solid game worthy of more recognition than it's received. If you think the only reason for the N64's existence is to present cutting-edge games, you probably won't like Hexen.


+ Good variety of complex, interrelated levels. + Some RPG elements for a breath of fresh air. + Three character types to choose from. This should help replay value. + Game can be saved literally anywhere. + Plenty of blood and gore; also some nice environmental touches (water dripping from cave ceilings, blood dripping from strung-up corpses). + Good monster variety. + Very little column-jumping required. YESSS! + If you thought Doom 64 was too dark, Hexen is a lot brighter. + A secret level in every chapter. + More than one can play. (Sorry, haven't tried that option.)


- Complex, interrelated levels (If you want a simple blast-o-rama, this isn't it). - Occasional jerky framerate. (Doesn't seem to have anything to do with the monster count. Bad programming, I guess.) - More weapons would have been nice -- 12 in all but only four per character class. - One game save takes 75% of a controller pak (90 pages). - A couple more "everyday" type monsters would have helped. - only two controller layouts, take 'em or leave 'em. - It's 20 bucks more expensive than the PSX Hexen. Dunno about the gameplay of that version.

General gothic ambience: A. Challenge factor: A. Fun factor: B+. Graphics: B. Sound FX: A. Music: B. Control: B. Overall rating: B+.

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