Sun, Jan 11, 2004 - Page 19 News List

PC game reviews

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Spell Force: The Order of Dawn 魔幻世紀

International distributor: JoWood, Phenomic Product Alternative Tentacles

Local distributor: Digital Xtreme

Platform: Chinese for PC, Online version

Release: February

Designed by Phenomic, Spell Force: The Order of the Dawn has already won accolades in Europe and recently at E3 in the US. It's Chinese-language version is slated for release in Taiwan next month. One of the most remarkable features of this release is that although Spell Force is a stand-alone game, it is not available from main street retailers and can only be obtained online.

This form of distribution for stand-alone games has recently begun to flourish as a countermeasure against piracy and Spell Force is the first to be distributed by the My Game Web site, which was established last December.

According to Digital Xtreme (聯翔數位) Multimedia Affairs Department manager Chao Li-jen (趙立人), combining Role-Play (RPG) and Real-Time Strategy (RTS) in a single game is the dominant trend in game design, and Spell Force's success is due to its ability to toggle between a first person zoom view and a broader strategic perspective of RTS.

Another special feature is the improved interface, which incorporates a new Click and Fight (CnF) system which uses button commands to deal with massed battles in which selection of units and targets can be confusing.

With six-player races and 30 enemy races, incredible magic, massive armies facing off against each other and 13 powerful mages tearing the world in their greed for power, an engaging ongoing storyline and many sub-quests, there is plenty of of variety to tempt even experienced RPG players. The game demo is available at the official Taiwan Web site at: spellforce.mygames.com.tw

Need for Speed: Underground

International distributor: Electronic Arts
Local distributor: EATW
Platform: Chinese for PC, English for PC, PS2, Xbox all available

The release of the seventh generation of Need for Speed puts gamers into the driver's seats of over 20 of the latest models currently to be found on the street. In addition to the latest cars, what differentiates Underground from earlier editions of the game is the improved online racing capability. As an added bonus for Taiwan gamers, EATW has set up a dedicated Chinese-language server, so that locals can enjoy the highest quality connection for online racing.

Compared to racing games available for PS2 and Xbox, Need for Speed: Underground retains the stronger story element of earlier versions, so that gamers need to win prizes to get money together for upgrading their vehicles. All the most lavish upgrades are available. The game makes good use of the hardware technology that is now available, with great attention to detail, even taking into account the different engine sounds of the various vehicles.

Game design includes a wide variety of race formats ranging from road races in which gamers can take advantage of diverse possible routes to straight-track drag racing where everything is down to the quality of the vehicle and your control at the speed limits of each vehicle.

EATW will give gamers a chance to race, as Need for Speed: Underground goes into competition starting at 11am on Jan. 17 at National Taipei Teacher's College, 134 Heping E Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (國立台北師範學院: 台北市大安區和平東路二段134) Competitors will be racing for a top prize of NT$3,000 and other smaller prizes.

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