PC Preview - Prince Of Qin

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on July 31, 2002 @ 8:27 p.m. PDT

In the year of 10 BC, the First Emperor made his rounds patrol eastward and unfortunately he died of a sudden and mysterious death. Chaos emerged all over the land with the fall of the king star. The peasants in Dazexiang county raised their flags to rebel. The uprising fire later spread throughout the entire realm. At the same time, the minorities outside of the Great Wall also turned their eyes to this rich land in chaos. Though the dynasty was facing its last days, like a caged tiger, how can it be willing to submit without.

Introduction

Prince of Qin a game based upon an old style of game play. More and more “RPGs” are following the path of the beloved Diablo series, which I think is a shame. Now you might be saying, hey that’s every RPG out for the computer right now and rightfully so, but some make that extra attempt to make it stand out. At first glance, Prince of Qin falls somewhat short. Well here goes.

The Story

The story may be great, but for it to be fun I believe you should be able to relate and get into it, such as when a name is mentioned and it is from long ago you can recall the memory and the “memory clicking” in your head goes off and your are filled with the feeling of; “Hey, I remember that.” I like that feeling which is why, if you’re going to base something on history make it so your audience will get it. Here is a bit of Qin history. Prince of Qin takes place in 210 BC which is about 2,200 years ago, you take the place of Fu Su, which supposedly killed himself because of an order he was given by his superiors this is the history, in the game you do not kill your self, and instead you try to take back the kingdom. I never knew this which really put me at a loss because if I did know it I could do the whole mind clicking thing, but sadly I can't.

The Game

Based heavily in Chinese history Prince of Qin will leave the average gamer baffled. I am assuming if you have knowledge of Chinese history than you will enjoy this game more. Knowing that this game is made by the same developers, Object Software, as 'Dragon Throne: The Battle of Red Cliffs’ this is not that big of a surprise (since it was also HEAVILY based on Asian myths/history). Prince of Qin is no more than a Diablo clone with average graphics and story that could be great but leaves you with more questions than answers.

Another annoyance, for me anyway, is the fact that you are locked to only one character and his story. I truly find this a game killer for where’s the replay value?
Freedom is what I am all about, don't want to be one type of player, switch and start again. This is what I find fun; Prince of Qin just doesn't have it. Now this is a beta so maybe they will add more characters or some feature of unlocking characters after you have completed the game with one character, but as it is now the restriction to a single main character is not a crowd pleaser.

The game features are the same as you would see in any Diablo clone or any other RPG for that matter. Health, Mana, and abilities, level up spend some points. However there are some features that I find fun, first the Multiplayer is suppose to be just awesome, multiple cities and continents. The ability to make your own weapons, the ending is based on your decisions which could possibly negate the lack of replay quote, but I doubt it. You also have the option of which type of player to be, such as paladin, mage, etc but isn't that offered in every RPG? One thing I do not like is the way the magic is based. It is based upon the elements, wind, fire, water, earth, and metal.

During game play you become more famous by every quest you take on (and of course complete). You character can be upgraded by gaining experience through killing enemies (depending on the quest they range from animals, monsters, wolves, wizards and soldiers). Not only does killing the opposing forces give you much needed experience points but they also randomly drop useful items upon death (such as food, gold, weapons, clothes, armor and so on). Not all of the items you pick up are immediately useful (some items require a higher skills or strength, thus for later use) and others can be simply sold at the local ‘shop’ or to a ‘blacksmith’, cashing in to save money. The shop and the Blacksmith on their turn are also places where you can buy extra medicine (or food to restore health), get your armor repaired and various other purposes.

Once you kill enough enemies and reach the next experience level you will get a notification that upgrade points are available to your character, you get 10 points you can assign as you like amongst strength, dexterity, savvy, wisdom, charm and so on … Each has it specific purpose such as the obvious strength which makes a single blow do more damage to an enemy, charm makes trade easier (prices for acquiring certain goods become cheaper), savvy increases the speed at which you reach the next upgrade level and so on.

When you first start the game you have the choice to recruit a Wizard who will team with you in your quests. Taking on enemies with a companion has its obvious advantages but this also means that you will progress less rapidly in experience rank/level since they will get distributed over 2 characters.

One of the most innovative aspects to Prince of Qin is the use of the 'Five Elements' (being metal, wood, water, fire, and earth). The Chinese believed that these 5 elements comprised the world and each has a positive or negative effect on another. For example, metal restricts wood and promotes water, while wood promotes fire and restricts earth. Practical examples of this are for instance the fact that a simple ring improves certain weapons, a necklace improves your helmet, and a belt improve yourarmor (when an item is added it shows you the status change). Too confusing for you? Each of your enemies can be composed of one of the elements, and if you use weapons wisely, they will cause more damage. On top of that there is also your own "skill" to make or upgrade exinsting weapons, for instance, where you can add a certain element (or stone) to your sword or shield and magic will happen ;) Of course figuring out what stone goes with what weapon and on its turn what weapon is best used against which enemy will take some time and exploring on your part.

Multiplayer

Prince of Qin also includes the capability to support 200 to 500 gamers on a single server, and thus can be considered a massively multiplayer game as well. Usually games are either single player based with multiplayer support for about 32 gamers per server, or just massively multiplayer games with bots or “training” modes. The multiplayer elements were not available in this preview version but they are certainly something to look forward to and might add to the game value if it all works out (and of course also LAN capabilities will be included in the final product).

Conclusion

I got somewhat frustrated with the amount of enemies one has to defeat in order to complete a quest. In one part when you have to kill all enemies who just plundered a nearby village it probably takes about 100 soldiers to track down all over the map (maps are pretty large). The other side of town you had to hunt down the Wolf King and yet again you had to fight your way through 100 or so regular wolves in order to obtain a decent amount of experience/weapons to be able to face the Wolf King. Add the fact that you have to strategically lure out 2-3 enemies at a time (taking on the entire group, especially the wolves, will get you killed) the constantly going back and forth makes it somewhat tiring. Nevertheless the game kept me coming back just to see what new weapons or armor upgrades I could buy, and there are plenty to keep you busy! The Five Elements is the main "novelty" in this game which might be confusing for some people but a notable attempt by Object Software to add a new twist to the vast array of Diablo/Baldur's Gate clones.

As this is based on a beta version of course enhancements will be made. Let's hope the development team does some good tweaking, adds more characters and balances out the enemies and we are all set for an enjoyable game. If not then I don't think this game will be more than a minor ripple in the sea of RPG/Diablo clones.

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