EA Games Orcs & Elves

EA Games Orcs & Elves
  • EA Games Orcs & Elves
  • EA Games Orcs & Elves
  • EA Games Orcs & Elves
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Turn-based action RPG is a revelation, lots of clever surprises

Cons

  • The graphics aren't great

Bottom Line

Orcs & Elves is engaging from the get-go. Lots of humour with plenty of gameplay twists which should keep you busy for a couple of hours.

Would you buy this?

Call us geeks, but any game that allows you to get your hands on a Vorpal Sword is alright with us.

This and numerous other old-school Dungeons and Dragons-style references await gamers in this surprisingly fun Nintendo DS release from -- wait for it -- id Software.

Orcs and Elves is a classic dungeon romp with straightforward gameplay: armed with a weapon and talking magic wand, you move through an underground environment fighting all kinds of monsters, solving puzzles and grabbing all kinds of loot. However, the magic of Orcs & Elves goes much deeper. This is one of those weird "one more minute" gaming experiences where, once you get started, it becomes extremely difficult to stop.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game design is that while Orcs and Elves feels like an action game, it is actually turn-based. You'd be hard-pressed to notice this however, unless you play close attention, as it works in a similar manner to a first-person shooter: you walk, encounter, and attack. The difference is that each move and each individual attack is a very short turn.

The overall impact of this turn-based play mechanic is profound, and can probably serve as an interesting lesson for designers of portable games. The format slows the game down just enough so that anyone can play, and secondly, it creates some interesting tactical moments during combat. Deciding between trying to end a battle by landing one more attack on an enemy or drinking a potion to save your life is just as fun as it is in Diablo.

One of the biggest surprises in Orcs and Elves is the clever game design, which keeps the game engaging and fresh. Your sidekick, a smart-aleck talking wand, throws out some fairly funny one-liners as you play. Some of the encounters with non-player characters are similarly engaging. For example, in order to convince one of the Dwarven ghosts in the game to give you a password, you have to use a series of smashing walls to create some ale. You then have to drink the ale in order to get the pass code you need while the screen simulates a drunken state by increasing the on-screen lag as you move around.

These kinds of gameplay twists abound, and it's a testament to Fountainhead, the game's designers, that they've managed to craft a DS experience that is this engaging.

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