Death knights of Krynn logo

Da soll nochmal einer über Drachenmangel klagen: Gleich zwei neue Reptilienshows aus der AD&D-Factory halten derzeit das Adrenalin am Köcheln. Aber wenn nicht die unterschiedlichen Titel wären - man könnte sie glatt verwechseln...

Aufbau und Gameplay beider Games sind nahezu identisch und ja bereits von den diversen Vorgängern besents gekannt. So schnippelt man sich zunächst durch den umfangreichen Charakter-Bastelbogen oder greift auf eine vorgefertigte Party zurück - Serienzocker dürfen auch die Helden vom jeweiligen "Ahnherrn" übernehmen. Und dann durchstreift man auch schon die Dörfer und Dungeons, wobei (taktisch ausgefeilte) Prügeleien die Hauptbeschäftigung der Heroen und Heroinen darstellen.

Ein ziemlich kleines Sichtfenster zeigt die Geschehnisse im typischen "AD&D-3D" (in Blickrichtung erscheint alles furchtbar in die Länge gezogen), ansonsten sind Statusanzeigen und ein Textwindow zu bestaunen. Der Kampfbildschirm im schrägen Draufblick erlaubt die direckte Steuerung der einzelnen Abenteurer; normalerweise darf man die Dreckarbeit aber getrost den Computer überlassen. Die grobschlächtige und ruckelig animierte Grafik kann niemanden mehr so richtig überzeugen, und auch die zwei Melodien samt der viereinhalb FX sind schon längst nicht mehr State of the Art. Dafür funktioniert die Menüsteuerung (wahlweise Maus oder Tastatur) zwar etwas umständlich, aber letztlich ohne Klag und Zag. Tja, und wie gewohnt ist keines der beiden Programme eine echte Herausforderung für den Rollenspiel-Profi.

Die Silberklingen sind der nunmehr dritte Teil der Forgotten Realms Reihe. Diesmal geht es darum, einem Erzschürferdorf beizustehen, dessen Einwohner etwas zu tief gegraben haben und dabei ganze Horden von bösartigen Iechern aufstöberten. Als Nachfolger der "Champions of Krynn" setzen die Todesritter dagegen das Dragonlance-Szenario fort: Zur Siegesfeier über die vor Jahresfrist geschlagenen Draconier haben sich in Gargath die Helden von Solamnia versammelt, als aus einer magischen Wolke plötzlich und unerwartet die Horden von Lord Soth's Untoten hervorbrechen. Na denn, auf ein Neues...

Beim Partybau stehen je nach Hintergrund verschiedene Rassen zur Verfügung, auch die Zauberer der beiden Welten (Clerics und Mages) müssen mit einigen Unterschieden leben. Zwar gleichen sich die Spells in Wortlaut und Wirkung, aber auf Krynn ist die Hexerei von den Mondphasen abhängig, während in den Realms magische Items eine wichtige Rolle spielen.

...wird, wer die bisherigen Abenteuer dieser Reihen mochte, mit Sicherheit auch hier zufrieden sein. Allen anderen sei nochmal gesagt, daß bei beiden Kandidaten mehr Drachenschädel als Rätselnüsse geknackt werden. (jn)

Death knights of Krynn logo

Hell's bells, where's Mark when you need him? A freak shift in the Earth's magnetic field caused this game to be accidentally given to me for review, the world's all-time least knowledgeable Dungeons & Dragons expert. Pages and pages of manual blurb about 'Champions Of Krynn', 'A Dragonlance Epic. Vol. II', 'Knights Of Solamnia' and all sorts of other guff flew straight over my head as I attempted to bludgeon my way into this forbidding-looking game. (There's a serious point in here - it doesn't seem to have occurred to SSI that someone might buy this game without any prior knowledge of the series, and there isn't much here to help them work out what on earth's supposed to be going on. For those who do know what the game's all about though, documentation is pretty comprehensive and impressive).

Running up against a particularly unhelpful copy-protection system didn't improve matters any either, so it was with great trepidation that I eventually (one reload later) found myself starting the game. And boy, was I in for a surprise.

After the endless pages of info and instructions on character attributes, weapons, movements and spells, what I quite definitely wasn't expecting to discover in the end was a game remarkably similar in concept to a geriatric 8-bit classic by the name of Chaos (by Laser Squad author Julian Gollop). Now that's simplifying matters somewhat, but all through playing Death Knights Of Krynn I just couldn't shake the feeling of deja vu. You can tell this is a serious D&D game though, because it's not as user-friendly, making you hack through several menus before you actually get to make a move.

Not only that, but when you hit an enemy (or get hit by them), the message telling you the result of the attack flashes up for the briefest possible instant, making it impossible to know what's happened unless you put the game on its slowest stetting. Difficulty is a bit on the high side as well - my party were slaughtered many times by the first band of baddies they met without there seeming to be much I could do about it at all.

You could argue there's not much point in my reviewing at all, and I'd tend to agree. Dungeons & Dragons aficionados will disregard any of my criticism as coming from a non-expert - which is fair enough, sort of - and non-fans aren't very likely to have this game high on their list of possible purchases anyway - unless this was a 90 percent game (and it's clearly not even for D&D fans) they'd probably just look at the mark, see nothing to change their minds, and not bother to read any further. So really, I could pretty much say anything I like at this point and no-one would notice. I believe there are many inherent deficiencies in an over-centralised media system, baby. See?

Ahem. The fact of the matter is - and it pains me to say it, it really does - this is okay if you like That Kind Of Thing. The release of Eye Of The Beholder makes it redundant in every meaningful way, but that won't put off diehard fans, and neither could anything else I might say.

Death knights of Krynn logo CU Amiga Screen Star

The sequel to SSI's highly-regarded Champions Of Krynn, Death Knights brings the fantastical world of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons to life. Set in the Dragonlance universe, the game opens with the player invited to celebrate their victory in the first game. As the partying begins, news reaches the village regarding a proposed attack by the vile Lord Soth and his ranks of undead minions. Thus party temporarily postponed, the battle to defeat Soth begins.

The game drops the player straight in at the deep end or, to be more precise, the Gargath Outpost. It is here that most of the ensuing battles will be fought, and from the safety of the Commander's Office, specific orders can be given. Within this area lurk a number of strange characters, including the man-eating Dread Wolf who will let you get to grips with Death Knights' many spells. However, because everything is set within this area, there's a lot of needless treking back to the office for fresh orders - and this is just a waste of time.

Death Knights features the usual wealth of banks and taverns where money, gossip or recruits can be collected and temples where wounds can be healed - for a small fee of course.

For the all-important battle scenes, complex strategies and bluffs can be made by switching players and positions using the mouse. Therefore, characters of better experience can be placed upfront and the weaker taken from harm's way. Even so, despite the beginner's level, Death Knights of Krynn may still be a little over the heads of new AD&D recruits. The abilities of key groups vary, too, with Knights and Rangers particularly effective during hand-to-hand battles, whilst the Clerics and Mages fall back with their spells and potions.

Death Knights is a massive game with a series of enjoyable and deep quests. Although most AD&D games suffer from relatively poor graphics when compared to the likes of Eye of the Beholder and Chaos Strikes Back, many of the locations especially drab and this reduces the atmospher immensely. In all, a game for wise and cunning AD&D fanatics.

As in Champions Of Krynn, the main bulk of the deep gameplay is given to the exploration and patrolling of its many cities and towns. Thanks to unwanted intervention of compatriats demanding your identification, this area proves to be extremely tedious and slow-moving, and makes the drawin of an all-important map considerably harder than it should be.
SPELL CASTING Although most characters within the game can perform spells, the Mages and Clerics have the strongest capabilities. Available spells range from healing to the usual array of missiles, but the creatures you are fighting are just as skilled and often impervious to your attempts. Everything has an Achilles' Heel - it's just a matter of finding it!

Secret of the Silver Blades logo

Let's do everyone a favour and be brief with this one. If you take everything said in the King's Bounty review in these pages and negate it, then you'll have a handy thumbnail guide to Secret Of The Silver Blades. After an hour spent ploughing through the manual and the interminable start-up sequence, I was no nearer to understanding the first thing about this game. When I eventually got into it my effort was rewarded with endless hours (or it could have been days) trekking around the most tediously featureless landscape imaginable in desperate search of anything which could vaguely be described as action.

Quite some time later I found an I found an interesting-looking doorway and entered it, to find myself back where I'd just come from. Another couple of weeks of traipsing about, and I managed to find some other characters. Entering into battle I picked my way through the unwieldy control system and completely failed to have fun whatsoever. Later I did some more event-free traipsing, cried a bit from boredom that was almost physically tangible, and went home.

I'm sorry if any D&D fanatics out there think I haven't spent nearly enough time playing this game, but it's my life and it's too short to waste any more of it on unadulterated rubbish like this. Actually that's a lie. I'm not sorry at all.