Xpec Ent.
Xicat
Action RPG
1-4
03.19.03

Black Stone: Magic & Steel


There comes a time when you need a game where you can just walk around and hack & slash enemies. Well Blackstone is that, and more. You can choose from five different classes of characters, each having different attributes and unique abilities.

The story behind Blackstone is pretty straightforward. It takes place in the mythical kingdom of Zedan. There is four towers that our protected by the White Wizards. Madul, the underworld boss betrayed the White Wizards, turning them into Underworld Wizards. One day the underworld boss wanted to use the Underworld Wizards to start a war. Well the people of Zedan were able to hold them off. And now they are coming back again, and it's your job to stop them.

Gameplay

The character classes to choose from are: warrior, archer, pirate, thief, and warlock. Each class has their own special attributes. For instance, a warrior has great aim from far distance, but a pirate can hit more harder up close then a warrior. After you choose what character you would like to play as, you start the game off with a pretty weak character. The main object to this game is to build up your character. Fighting off enemies throughout the stages gives you rewards. The main thing you collect, aside from the Black Stones, is gold. Other important things you need to collect are the magic scrolls, which can be used to kill off enemies in a single blow. To increase your characters effectiveness during combat, you can also buy items with the gold you collected. You can buy more hit points, magic, meat (health) and other power-ups that will help you in the game. The good thing about BlackStone is that you can go back to each of the levels that you completed and collect more things to increase your characters ability. That's a feature that I took full advantage of while playing this game.

Attacking the baddies can be as simple as pressing the A button. That would be the "hack and slash" button. But besides that, there are many other ways to attack. The second obvious way would be to use magic. Magic is carried out by press the B button. There are many different forms of magic, some of which are fire, ice, thunder, and holy scrolls. Another useful attack button is the X button, which allows you to shoot enemies from a distance. The one essential thing to keep an eye out for is the little power bar on the bottom of your player's menu during combat. If this gets too low, you cannot shoot from a distance anymore, and you must wait for it to charge back up. But if you have time, the best thing to do is hold on R button down to regain the power charge. The X button also allows you to use other temporary weapons that you pick up from opening up chests, or breaking barrels. These consist of gas bombs, multi shot, throwing hammer, and a few other neat types of weaponry.

The fighting system is a little flawed. Collision detection is almost completely nonexistent. The enemies are able to attack you through the fences, and you can too. With that said, the wooden fences in the jungle levels are useless.

The multiplayer action is this game is what really brings out the quality in this game. Playing with 3 other players cooperatively is just superb. There isn't much you can do that is "extra", but you can do powerful charge-up attacks. Simultaneously these attacks are very destructive.

Graphics

The overhead view isn't all that bad. Graphically, the visuals could have been a lot better since the Xbox is capable of a lot more. As I stated before, the collision detection is bad at times. You can easily attack enemies through solid wooden fences, and they can also attack you with their long-range weapons. Each character isn't made up of that many polygons, and you never get to see a close up of them either. Being able to fire upon enemies through walls is just plain pathetic. The cut scenes in between levels are short and sweet. They consist of a "god" like voice in the background talking about what you accomplished, and what's coming up next. And also in the cut scene is a picture of a castle or some evil enemy that you must get to.

Sound

Black Stone ranges from deep epic style music to weird bongo jungle music. The actual sound effects are alright, nothing spectacular.

Replay Value

Blackstone's replay value is pretty high since you have to go back to the early levels if you really want to build up your character. If you like having multiple characters, then your really going to get a lot of playing time out of this game. There are about 26 levels, and you can go back to all the ones you completed at anytime. Sometimes you'll find an area that you missed and pick up some extra powers along the way.

Bottom Line:

Being that this is an action RPG, there are many RPG elements. While the diehard RPG fans may not like the fast paced action, this action RPG is splendid. Blackstone should not be overlooked. Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of RPG's, but this one is one that I can honestly say I enjoy. If you noticed, I didn't compare this game to any other game, because I simply don't have to. Black Stone is well worth a $50 purchase.

-Steve Melanson




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