I play old games season 2 premiere: The Revenge (Wizardry 8)

Let's get something out of the way right now: There is no actual revenge in this thread. But since it's the first game I have blogged about since the 1 year anniversary of me

 Yes. I will compare this game to Might and Magic several times.
doing this stupid crap, I think it deserved a better title. Oh, and let's get something else out of the way: 80's cartoon themes are insanely catchy. You all know what I mean. 
 
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. Wizardry 8. It's rad. Oh, I'm not allowed to make a blog that short? Ok, fine. Made by the now-defunct (notice a trend?) Sir Tech and released in late 2001, Wizardry 8 represents an end of an era, not just because it's the last game in the series that pretty much created the entire RPG genre (along with Ultima) as we know it, but also because it's the last game of the First-Person-Party-Based-Dungeon-Crawling-RPG subgenre that wasn't an unfinished piece of mediocrity ( Might and Magic IX) or a sadistic, Japanese developed throwback ( Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire) that take after the very first games in the genre (i.e. Before it was good). That's pretty dang significant, and even if you dang kids and your dang Mass Effects and what have you don't get it, it's a fairly big deal. Really.
 
 Not pictured: Awesomely, borderline racist voice samples.
Much like a lot of the RPGs I like, Wizardry 8 doesn't exactly have an oscar winning screenplay for a story. It merely serves as context for your party to fuck shit up and is at least competent enough to keep me invested in the world. Weirdly enough, the world of Wizardry flaunts its sci-fi themes much, much, much more oververtly than Might and Magic, which at least for 6 and 7 didn't have you fighting robots with overpowered laser guns until the last 5 hours of the game or so. Sadly, you don't get laser guns in Wiz 8, but you do have the opportunity to recruit a robot into your party, which sort of makes up for it. But despite these similarities Wizardry and Might and Magic are very different takes on the same genre. Much like Might and Magic, you create a party with the intention to fuck shit up with it, and if you are crazy you can import a party from Wizardry 7 (which just happens to have came out in 1992). In this aspect alone, Wiz 8 is awesome. There are 15 different classes and 11 different races (really, if you want details on this just take a look at this game's wiki page. It's well made) to choose from to form a party of 6 (8 with NPC characters). The classes manage to differentiate themselves quite nicely, but perhaps the greatest part of character customization is giving your guys voices. The surprising amount of voices, ranging from "generic fantasy" to "borderline racist" are invoked quite often to great effect. Want a Fairy Ninja with a hispanic accent who talks in the 3rd person as if he were narrating an epic adventure? That is possible. 
 
Yes. One of the NPCs that can join your party is a ranger named Sparkle
But what is the actual flow of the gameplay? Slow. After the initial dungeon, your party goes down a (long) and difficult (Wiz 8 is unapologetic in it's difficulty, but it's not sadistic) road to the first town, where they get the game's overlying quest (get 3 artifacts and ascend to the cosmic circle) as well as introductions to the two warring factions that will help you reach that goal. (Militaristic Rhino people and Cult-like spider people). Unfortunately, one of my few gripes with Wiz 8 is that practically every quest is required, unless you want to go out of your way to make things difficult. There is also a lot of walking going on in some otherwise empty maps, only to be broken up by combat encounters, which frankly take too long even when the speed is cranked up all the way. The combat itself is probably the greatest part of the game though. It requires a lot of thinking, and unlike plenty of other games, Wiz 8 has status effect spells that work, and without them the combat is significantly harder. Direct Damage spells, by comparison, aren't quite as useful as they should be. But really, it's your upfront melee guys who will be doing most of the damage anyways.    
 
Wizardry 8 is an interesting game. It's difficult, rewarding, and quite slow, and I am still very much excited to finish it. Along with X-COM it represents the kind of game that I recommend with very little concessions. Unfortunately, it's not very easy to find for a decent price, but if you do find it (or *cough* acquire it) I suggest you get it.  
 
Next up: Really, I have no idea. I am going to try to finish this game, and that's going to require some effort.
30 Comments
30 Comments
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Let's get something out of the way right now: There is no actual revenge in this thread. But since it's the first game I have blogged about since the 1 year anniversary of me

 Yes. I will compare this game to Might and Magic several times.
doing this stupid crap, I think it deserved a better title. Oh, and let's get something else out of the way: 80's cartoon themes are insanely catchy. You all know what I mean. 
 
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. Wizardry 8. It's rad. Oh, I'm not allowed to make a blog that short? Ok, fine. Made by the now-defunct (notice a trend?) Sir Tech and released in late 2001, Wizardry 8 represents an end of an era, not just because it's the last game in the series that pretty much created the entire RPG genre (along with Ultima) as we know it, but also because it's the last game of the First-Person-Party-Based-Dungeon-Crawling-RPG subgenre that wasn't an unfinished piece of mediocrity ( Might and Magic IX) or a sadistic, Japanese developed throwback ( Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire) that take after the very first games in the genre (i.e. Before it was good). That's pretty dang significant, and even if you dang kids and your dang Mass Effects and what have you don't get it, it's a fairly big deal. Really.
 
 Not pictured: Awesomely, borderline racist voice samples.
Much like a lot of the RPGs I like, Wizardry 8 doesn't exactly have an oscar winning screenplay for a story. It merely serves as context for your party to fuck shit up and is at least competent enough to keep me invested in the world. Weirdly enough, the world of Wizardry flaunts its sci-fi themes much, much, much more oververtly than Might and Magic, which at least for 6 and 7 didn't have you fighting robots with overpowered laser guns until the last 5 hours of the game or so. Sadly, you don't get laser guns in Wiz 8, but you do have the opportunity to recruit a robot into your party, which sort of makes up for it. But despite these similarities Wizardry and Might and Magic are very different takes on the same genre. Much like Might and Magic, you create a party with the intention to fuck shit up with it, and if you are crazy you can import a party from Wizardry 7 (which just happens to have came out in 1992). In this aspect alone, Wiz 8 is awesome. There are 15 different classes and 11 different races (really, if you want details on this just take a look at this game's wiki page. It's well made) to choose from to form a party of 6 (8 with NPC characters). The classes manage to differentiate themselves quite nicely, but perhaps the greatest part of character customization is giving your guys voices. The surprising amount of voices, ranging from "generic fantasy" to "borderline racist" are invoked quite often to great effect. Want a Fairy Ninja with a hispanic accent who talks in the 3rd person as if he were narrating an epic adventure? That is possible. 
 
Yes. One of the NPCs that can join your party is a ranger named Sparkle
But what is the actual flow of the gameplay? Slow. After the initial dungeon, your party goes down a (long) and difficult (Wiz 8 is unapologetic in it's difficulty, but it's not sadistic) road to the first town, where they get the game's overlying quest (get 3 artifacts and ascend to the cosmic circle) as well as introductions to the two warring factions that will help you reach that goal. (Militaristic Rhino people and Cult-like spider people). Unfortunately, one of my few gripes with Wiz 8 is that practically every quest is required, unless you want to go out of your way to make things difficult. There is also a lot of walking going on in some otherwise empty maps, only to be broken up by combat encounters, which frankly take too long even when the speed is cranked up all the way. The combat itself is probably the greatest part of the game though. It requires a lot of thinking, and unlike plenty of other games, Wiz 8 has status effect spells that work, and without them the combat is significantly harder. Direct Damage spells, by comparison, aren't quite as useful as they should be. But really, it's your upfront melee guys who will be doing most of the damage anyways.    
 
Wizardry 8 is an interesting game. It's difficult, rewarding, and quite slow, and I am still very much excited to finish it. Along with X-COM it represents the kind of game that I recommend with very little concessions. Unfortunately, it's not very easy to find for a decent price, but if you do find it (or *cough* acquire it) I suggest you get it.  
 
Next up: Really, I have no idea. I am going to try to finish this game, and that's going to require some effort.
Posted by Video_Game_King

Wait, where's the DuckTales? That's my only tie to this blog! The closest thing I've to Wizardry is Elder Scrolls, and I haven't even started playing that yet.

Posted by ArbitraryWater
@Video_Game_King: Oh, you mean this connection? 
  That's what I was talking about in the opening paragraph. And Elder Scrolls is significantly different from wizardry. The closest franchise to it is Might and Magic, but that's already been established.
Posted by Claude

It's hard to get my hands on Wizardry 8. Would Arx Fatalis be any good?

Posted by Symphony

oh wow, it's you Arbitrary. I didn't recognize you without that Might and Magic guy's face as your icon @.@
 
Good read, as always, though sadly Wizardry falls into that type of game that holds absolutely no interest for me. :(

Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater: 
 
Yea, but they're the same genre, and that's as close as I'm coming, currently.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@Claude: Never played Arx Fatalis. However, it's supposed to be pretty good.  Then again, the people that made it went on to make Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, which not only was an affront to the franchise but also not a good game on its own merits. Isn't it only like $6 on GOG? It's not like you would be losing money if you didn't like it.
 
@Symphony: Well, I didn't recognize your avatar when you switched the anime lady for the other anime lady. For about two seconds.  I could switch back to sandro, but currently I prefer Dunsparce for being the Pokemon that absolutley nobody can name off the top of their heads.
 
Simply put, Wiz 8 is about as western an RPG as you can find. All that's missing are the dialog trees, and it even kinda has those.  It's understandable.
 
@Video_Game_King: Well, it's at least a step in the right direction. Consequentially, which Elder Scrolls are we talking about here? Because I have played all of them, and I'm pretty sure you have already done Oblivion.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater: 
 
Ooh, that's a bit awkward. The thing is that it's Oblivion that I'm about to play. Literally. I'm just about to put the disc in.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@Video_Game_King:  Oh. It's not that I am anti-oblivion (quite the opposite, in fact), but I would love to see your take on a game as half-assed and broken as Daggerfall. Or you could play Morrowind, which is actually pretty decent.
Posted by Symphony
@ArbitraryWater:  But it's not one of the original Pokemon, so that's kind of cheating. Hell, I can't name any of the pokemon past the originals! And Flareon is still the best.
Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater: 
 
I'm still struggling to give Bushwald Sexyface a mustache with no beard. He is strictly against goatees.
Edited by ArbitraryWater
@Symphony:  As far as I am concerned, Gold/Silver still count as games that existed when Pokemon was a fad, and therefore people should have been trading dunsparce cards the world over. In a perfect world, Dunsparce and Charizard would pretty much be the same in terms of popularity.  Let's all say it together now: Dunsparce, the Land Snake pokemon. Why is it called that, despite not looking like a snake? I have no idea.

Actually, if we are looking at it from a competitive standpoint, Flareon is the worst of the eevee-lutions. Shallow movepool, bad typing, and generally middling stats. You would be much better evolving it into umbreon or vaporeon.
 
@Video_Game_King: Trying to get something decent out of Oblivion's character creator is asking for too much. Trying to get decent facial hair? Impossible.
Posted by Symphony
@ArbitraryWater: Pfft, shows what you know. Flareon is the best!
Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater: 
 
I've already come to accept that, so I've worked into his story: a witch cast a horrible anti-sexy spell on our great hero, robbing him of his mustache, turning him a translucent white, and giving him very red lips. Fallout 3 didn't make me jump through these damn hoops.
 
@Symphony:
 
No, Typhlosion is the best, followed by the oddly customizable Smeagle.
Posted by ZombiePie

Hmm I have never been one for old school PC gaming but after playing Tropico due to the summer Steam sale I'm finally warming up to the idea. Great blog and this is going on the Spotlight!

Moderator
Posted by Symphony

omg grats Arbitrary!
 
@Video_Game_King:
 
No, Flareon is the best! This discussion is over. I win!

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Symphony: 
 
Hold on. * turns on music* No, Typhlosion is the best. No other Pokemon can compare.
Posted by Symphony
@Video_Game_King: 
 
Why would a minstrel be playing a double-neck guitar...? That's madness! Madness!!!
Posted by Video_Game_King
@Symphony: 
 
Because he's Kyle Gass, duh! Man, I've been making a bunch of Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny references recently.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@ZombiePie:  YES! Finally the recognition I deserve! Soon you will all be my mindless thralls, forced to play obscure RPG and Strategy games that came out before 2004! Of course you won't be totally mindless, otherwise you wouldn't be able to complete the games.
 
@Video_Game_King: I vouch for Typhlosion as being the second best, if it makes you feel any better. But can Typhlosion be annoying as hell with a ParaFlinch strategy? (Consisting of paralyzing the opponent with glare, and then headbutting them over and over again. Due to Dunsparce's special ability, they flinch 60% of the time)
Posted by Video_Game_King
@ArbitraryWater: 
 
I had a level 100 Typhlosion once, so you'd be dead before you could do that. Unfortunately, the damn battery ran out. Still, I can always FIGHT my Typhlosion in Crystal, thanks to the Mystery Gift feature nobody ever figured out.
Posted by ChernobylCow

My problem with Wizardry 8 that never let me progress very far is that the game's enemies stay ON LEVEL with you no matter where you are.  So I'd be getting my ass handed to me outside the first village because I'd spent too much time exploring and leveling in the process. That was really disappointing.  At least in M&M you could eventually be more powerful than the Followers of Baa ;)

Posted by ArbitraryWater
@ChernobylCow said:
" My problem with Wizardry 8 that never let me progress very far is that the game's enemies stay ON LEVEL with you no matter where you are.  So I'd be getting my ass handed to me outside the first village because I'd spent too much time exploring and leveling in the process. That was really disappointing.  At least in M&M you could eventually be more powerful than the Followers of Baa ;) "
Yeah, the game definitely suffers from Systematic Level Scaling Syndrome (Also known as "Oblivion's Disease), but It never seriously detracted from the experience for me, and by the end of the game your party is more than capable of destroying anything, regardless of level. Then again, I also really liked Oblivion.
 
Being that I am roughly 5 or so hours of gameplay away from beating Wiz 8 at this point, I can say that there are some aspects of it that really started to irk me, despite all the great things I have said about it in above blog. The world itself is kind of empty, most areas consisting of long, long, long roads from one quest location to another filled with enemies which is one of the reasons the game is so dang lengthy. Also, while I can appreciate the total and absolute lack of filler in the quest department, there aren't that many things to do (once again, in contrast to Might and Magic, which is super sidequest heavy). Other than those problems, I really like the game.
Posted by Boiglenoight

I bought this and never played it.  Worth the time to install, or should I just stick to modern RPGs?

Posted by Ragdrazi
@ArbitraryWater:  I sort of put Wizardry 8 at the beginning of a very dark road that video games have taken that leads directly into the darkest pits of WOW. I hated Wizardry 8.
 
The music was incredible though.
 
  
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@keef: Thanks for bumping my 3 month old blog. I would reproach you, but I'm in a good mood. However, to answer your question, sure. Wizardry 8 is not for everyone. It's a little too long for the amount of content it presents, it's fairly difficult, and sometimes aimless. But as a full-on old school game, sure, I would suggest you give it a try. At least play through the Monastery and see what you think, then decide whether or not you want to spend a ton of time on this game. There are more friendly options for sure. Take a look at some of my other blogs (I did one on the first Baldur's Gate recently) if you want my opinions on those.
 
@Ragdrazi: Really? You see, I consider Wizardry 8 to be the total opposite of something like WOW. It's single player, fairly hardcore in its difficulty and pacing, and extremely newbie unfriendly. I would go as far as to say it is one of the last true "old school" RPGs, along with stuff like Icewind Dale 2. If anything, blame KotOR and the first Neverwinter Nights for "watering down RPGs for the casuals". Or is it the level scaling? Then I might be slightly more able to understand. Nonetheless, you aren't wrong about the music. It is pretty good.
 

Posted by Ragdrazi
@ArbitraryWater: And WOW isn't? I mean, it's the first game were I recall pointless grinding to be the point of playing. And the last of the "old school" RPGs was Baldur's Gate 2. I found Icewind Dale pretty disappointing for it's lack of focus on character, story, or meaningful customization. Just like Wizardry 8. Neverwinter NIghts was a step in the same direction, but KotOR was actually something of a beaming beacon of hope in what was becoming dreary pointlessly slowed down hack'n'slash.
 
See, you really seem to take game mechanics as the first last and only thing you need to look at in a game Arbitrary. If I want to play a game were I go around killing things, then FPS. If I want to play a game where I feel like I'm stepping into a world that's different from my own (me, personally, through meaningful customization) and can have real lasting effects on that world that I choose (again, me, personally, through meaningful story and dialog options) then I play an old school RPG.
 
I know I'm not alone in this, because I know Wizardry 8 was pretty savaged in reviews I read of it at the time for exactly these reasons.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@Ragdrazi:  Ah. So it's very much a matter of taste. You want story, characters, and general plot to be in your RPG pie, which I understand totally. Wiz 8 is not that. It's pretty much all combat with a little puzzle solving here and there and a bit of a story to tie things together, thus your derision. However, a metacritc average of 85 suggests that the game wasn't as savaged as you seem to imply. And as an old school RPG, it's the last of the First-Person party-based dungeon crawlers that started the genre in the first place (Ok, so there's also Might and Magic IX, which came out the next year, but that game kind of sucks) Sure, it's fairly grindy inasmuch as it's hard to avoid combat, but I find your definition far too narrow, considering most RPGs pre-1997 weren't focused on story anyways.
 
 However, you're goddamn right that I think mechanics can make or break a game. I have trouble playing the first Mass Effect because, despite it's good story and (semi) good characters, the gameplay is generally pretty shitty. At best, it's a mediocre 3rd person shooter with braindead squad AI and at worst it's driving the Mako through generic sidequest after generic sidequest. Planescape is similarly dull from a mechanical angle, but the excellent dialog more than makes up for the fact that all the parts that aren't dialog are totally boring. A good story, when combined with good gameplay is best, certainly (aforementioned BG2, easily one of my favorite games of all time), but I will take mechanics over story a good 8 out of 10 times.
 
But in the end, it seems we want different things out of RPGs, and I can respect that. I think Icewind Dale is pretty awesome as I am playing through it right now, because I didn't expect it to be anything other than a tactical hack-n'-slash. However, as I am also replaying KotOR, I find that a lot of the mechanics in that game are broken (albeit, in a way that basically encourages you to go straight melee jedi with a double bladed lightsaber), and that's kind of a bummer. Thanks for your input though.
Edited by Ragdrazi
@ArbitraryWater:  You're going to think I'm full of shit, but I remember it being savaged. Maybe what I'm remembering is the public not liking it. The press and public were not as well connected at the time. People blamed the Gamespot website (which I thought was the only positive press it received. I guess I thought that because they thought that) for giving it positive press, because they wanted sales. They also attacked it for not having the same focus on story that apparently the previous Wizardry titles had. I can't speak to that because 8 is all I ever played.
 
As far as old school... I think you've got something there with your wiki influenced knowledge. Wizardry 8 is from an older school than my old school. Sort of a press forward to get a new image of a hallway and oh there's a monster there! old school. You've been eaten by a grue old school. Ok. The problem is, that school sucked ass for exactly the same reasons Wizardry 8 sucked ass. Our school replaced that school, keeping everything good and getting rid of the boring trivial fighting gameplay. You're probably right that this accounts for my derision. Wizardry 8 was a throwback to a time we had grown out of. A bad time that did not need to be revisited.
 
However, I don't think I'm goddamn right that I think mechanics can break a game. Because I never actually said anything about mechanics breaking a game at all. Mechanics are important. But they are not the only thing you can look at. If you don't think Mass Effect 1 was a great game then I'd like to know what you're smoking. But Planescape was a total failure on every level. Boring mechanics. Boring characters (if original). And monotonous boring setting (again, if original).
 
I simply do not understand the appeal of a story free hack'n'slash. I think it's  just stat building. This is what I mean when I say this road leads to WOW. You like this kind of game. Because you are part of a school that is dominated by WOW. I'm not a part of that school. And really more than anything else, that's why I hate Wizardry 8.
 
Thanks for responding.
Posted by Driadon

I know this thread/blog is all SORTS of old, but I do have a question: where'd you track down your copy of Wizardry 8, granted it was found around the time of giving it a go? Been trying to find some way now for ages, and so far the only thing I've found is buying a used copy through Amazon UK.