MINOTAUR -- Review
nathan elery bitner
May 19 1992, 9:15 pm
Okay, here is the review for the game just released by Bungie Software,
MINOTAUR: Labyrinths of Crete:
This is a 2-8 player game (plus a 1-player exploration mode for getting
used to the commands, etc.) that is played over the net or by modem, and,
yes, it can be played over Ethernet.
I have been playing this game for over a month now and I can confidently say
that it is one of the few games that you don't get sick of after a short time;
it actually increases in interest the more I play and the better I get. You
can't solve it; you play against human players. One of the best results of
this is that no two games are ever the same.
BACKGROUND: Basically, the human players are tossed into a randomly generated
maze that is bigger depending on how many people are playing. Each player has
60 attribute points, which they may split up as they choose between Agility,
Brawn, and Lore. There are up hundreds of items in each labyrinth including
swords, armors, poisons, spells, medicines, and a WIDE array of items that do
everything from stealing items to paralyzing another player to teleporting (and
other interesting things). The developer did an excellent job in choosing
original items that do original things (wait until you find the "Stave of
Ultimate Doom" with the inscription "don't use this" ... :)
You have to race around the maze, hoping to beat your opponent to some of the
cooler swords/items/etc. and then attack him before he can prepare himself.
Of course, he or she is planning to do the same thing ... ;)
Alliances are formed quickly (and often broken just as quickly -- I'm still
fuming at one of my friends ... ;) and with so many items that can do so many
different things, there are literally hundreds of strategies that can be
employed by different characters.
GAMING: Okay, I know I'm going to leave a million things out, but I'll try to
break this down into several categories:
CHALLENGE: Hey, guys this is up to you. It all depends on who you play with.
If you play with a bunch of WEENIES who want to be nice, then you'll kick their
butts. If you play with people who will greet your request for an alliance withsix long-range spells they've been saving, you will quickly become FODDERized.
As players become more experienced, their skill levels become roughly equal.
Still, it's a matter of pitting strength against strength and strategy against
strategy. If you have a high brawn and a low lore but all you have gathered is
spells, prepare to be tooled by someone whose a lorebeast and has also found
spells. If you knew what the strength of your opponent was then you would
know exactly how to best kill him. But you don't know that until it's too
late ... heh, heh. You can see why no two games are different. Some last
2 minutes; some last the maximum of 20. Speaking of which ...
TIME: The game lasts until only ONE character is left standing. Allies do
have the option of using a "quit" command once they are the only ones remaining,but more often one of them will turn against the one he thinks is weaker so that he gets an extra kill. (BTW, your stats go up a little for every 10 kills and go down a little for every 10 losses; your character is retired after 50 decisions). After a set amount of time, however, (around 20 minutes I think),the game pauses momentarily and moves to "ARMAGEDDON". The players are thrown into a very small chamber with several Giant Spiders (Stalkers) and fight it out to the death. This phase is BRUTAL!!!!! Armageddon resolves fights betweenweenies who are running around the maze, avoiding each other. :)
I can tell you one thing. The action is so damn FAST that you won't notice the
time most games ... in fact, it kind of sneaks up on you.
PLAY CONTROL/PLAYABILITY: Very smooth interaction between player and maze once
you get used to it. At first, it's a bit confusing to coordinate swords, armorsspells, and items but once you play a few games, it gets MUCH easier. This is very important to learn because a crucial part of the game is being prepared for an ambush. You should always have escape magic ready, etc.
The players move around very easily and quickly, something that was improved
GREATLY since the first time I play-tested it. This goes for everything from
the Classic to the IIfx. The only time the screen slows down *a little* is
during massive hand to hand combat. Even then, though, it's hardly noticeable.
FUN: Immense. I have never played a more entertaining game on the Mac.
Imagine you and six or so of your friends smacking each other around with
spells and swords. Backstabbing each other. We had one kid say "Oh, I'm
excellent at these kind of games; I'll never lose" before he had even played
it. Needless to say, about five of us jumped him and beat him to a bloody
pulp. Now THAT was fun. :) However, this game needs to find a way around
quiet hours. We were reprimanded several times for yelling "F*ck you you
bastard! You stole my (fill in the blank)" down the hallways and throughout
the dorm. :) Plus as soon as someone brags that they're the best, everyone is
out to kill them. The human element makes the game spectacular. I personally
like it best with 5-6 players but most of my friends prefer the eight-man
brawls. Going one-on-one involves the most skill and can really settle a score
or separate the men from the boys. 2-on-2 teams is another fun combination.
There is a "yell" command that allows you to announce to all the players
anything you want. You won't believe some of the things that come out ... ;)
GRAPHICS: The game is pretty eye-pleasing. The colors are bright but not
gaudy. The "flowing teleporters" and colorful runes, etc. look really cool.
There's enough stuff to keep the maze interesting, but not so much that teh
("the") screen looks cluttered. Graphics aren't very important to the game
but look good anyway. BTW, the color graphics is definitely impressive; the
B/W may not be that exciting, but there's no problem with identifying objects,
etc. (I know; I always got stuck on a B/W machine ... :( )
SOUND: Plenty of varying sound effects (groans, screams, cheers, etc.) keep
it interesting. They are different enough so that you're not confused as to
whether you're lethargized, dazed, paralyzed, etc. ... ;)
WEAKNESSES: The only weakness is that you have to have friends ... ;)
Also, it does take a little time to get used to. But after the first few games,it is *well* worth the effort.
There's a *lot* more I could say but I'll let you guys ask the questions and
I'll answer what I know (which should be most of what you could ask).
Overall, this is definitely worth buying -- you get two disks at something
like $20 a piece, depending on the store -- cheaper than most games several
echelons lower than this one. Anyway, ask away, and I'll see what I can do.
"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."