aGORA is, mostly, an action-adventure game, with some real-time strategy.
There are also some puzzle solving elements, all in a fantasy RPG setting.
Fortunately, playing the game is much more fun than classifying it. Runner
movement and combat are controlled from the keyboard as the player views
the action via a movable camera, ala Myth. Combat is simple and entertaining,
revolving more around moving into good position and knowing when to
attack rather than around the simple attack and defend buttons. Magic is an
integral part of the game and every runner, even the barbarian, eventually
learns three spells. Potions and scrolls are also found scattered throughout
the levels. There are six character types in aGORA, each
with different balances between health, magic and combat. You must also choose
your magic guild which determines the spells you will learn.
In the single-player game, your quest is to traverse
the eighteen globes and save the known universe. Each globe contains
a key; the broken pieces of the key must be found and reunited in order to move
on. Hordes of skeletal defenders, competing runners
and devious puzzles spin a vortex of complications. The levels are diverse
and entertaining. Youíll never know what to expect next. Some of the globes
are quite difficult to solve and will take some replaying to master. It is a bit
of a disappointment that there are only eighteen. I definitely wanted more.
The skills game and networked play pick up the slack and result in a game which
can be played indefinitely. One of aGORAís most interesting innovations is
the replacement of maps with globes. There are no boundaries in aGORA. Each
level takes place on a globe. No more bumping against sidelines and getting pinned
in the corners of a map. You may even be able to circumnavigate a globe
and come up behind the enemy.
How is aGORA different from Myth? Aesthetically,
aGORA looks much like Myth. Like Myth, aGORA is a real-time strategy
game set in a fantasy worldand sports a movable camera. The difference
between the two games is one of scope. Myth is a tactical combat game
concentrating on the management of a troop of forces. aGORA, however, plays more
like Diablo. In aGORA, you maneuver a single character around the world.
This character will advance in levels and capabilities much as in role playing
games. You control every movement, every sword slash and every defensive
parry. Still, the combat is not super-fast twitch action like Diablo. aGORA
is paced a little slower and requires more strategy and puzzle solving. Pure
twitch gamers may be initially disappointed. The strategy elements
of the game require lessened pace and enhance the gaming experience. The
action is plenty hot in aGORA, especially in networked games which are the best
aGORA was initially conceived and truly shines
as a network game. The title aGORA is taken from the Greek word, ìagora,î
which means "marketplace." The marketplace was where people came together
to meet and to discuss matters. aGORA's creator, Zachary Waibel, tells
us that he has an image of large groupsÝ networking together for discussion
and gaming. Up to ten people can play one network game. As you who already
play networked games know, there is nothing like a human opponent. Imagine
ten! There is nothing like the mayhem of four teams defending their own oracles
and trying to reduce the other teamís to a slagged heap of smoking rubble.
Games can be played over TCP/IP and/or AppleTalk (thatís right, you can
play a game over both AppleTalk and the internet at the same time).
It would, however, have been nice if NetWar City (Knowble Design's utility
to bring network players together) had been bundled with the game rather
than distributed as an after-market download. If you are not already playing
networked games, aGORA is a great place to start. You will want to play through
the single-player levels first, however.
One of the game's caveats is that aGORA seems
to require very fast connections to network well. On busy internet nights, I sometimes
had difficulties even with a 56K modem. The odds of getting multiple
perfect internet connections are low and this may cause frustrating slow downs
for multi-player games. Other complaints I have are that the 18 single
player globes left me wanting more and a couple of them were not quite as
outstanding as the others. Some seemed too damn hard, frankly. In the single
player quest, the AI of computer allies is imperfect and you may find yourself
cursing your allies more than your enemies.
Those are minor quibbles, however. aGORA is a fantastic game. It draws you into its vast world and engages you for hours at a time.
Great, genre stretching game play
Beautiful look and feel to the game
Innovative use of unbounded globes rather than restrictive maps
Exciting network possibilities
Some levels may be too hard
Artificial intelligence uneven
Network play sometimes very slow
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