|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Silent Grove||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Dreamcatcher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 3, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: MMOG||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
May 9, 2007 - Dawnspire: Prelude is an action RPG in the tradition of Diablo. It's not a bad game, but it will never attain greatness. It's light, and it's fun, but there are some problems that you'll encounter that conspire to ruin any enjoyment that you might have been able to squeeze out of this one. As an online game, you need people to play against. Unfortunately, there just aren't many players hopping on the Dawnspire bandwagon. For the few times that you might actually find a game played entirely by humans, all can seem right with the world. But when the game substitutes bots, you're in for a bumpy ride.
Dawnspire is not for the lone wolf. This is a team-based RPG game. It's not very difficult, and it's deep enough to keep any player interested since the depth isn't bogged down in superfluous detail. Just about anyone can be up and playing in minutes. After you create a character, you choose from a list of classes that include the Reaver, Seeker, Shadowblade, Witch, and Templar. These five classes all have the requisite different abilities. At the outset, you can determine how you will upgrade your character. Experience points can be distributed to various skills and stats. You can do this manually or have it done automatically. You'll want to increase stats such as strength, health, armor, weapons, mana, healing, and spells. Your character will be good-to-go almost immediately, and you can start your hacking and slashing in earnest, but you might just find something preventing you from getting a toehold in this fantasy world.
Both bots and more experienced characters can snipe you off the second you spawn into this world. The bots do it automatically, while the humans do it because they are losers with nothing else better to do. It's unfair that beginners have to start at the same place where experienced players start. The bots can really be aggressive. But there's little that you can do about them. They will fill in for missing human players. They are aggressive and make good hunters, but they aren't very team oriented - an attribute that is essential to winning in this game. Overall, the bots are inconsistent. The ones that aren't leveled-up can be incredibly stupid while the ones that are more experienced seem bent on being evil loners, although they are really good at tracking down the treasures.
The Reaver is an elf that can morph her body into fearsome weapons. The Seeker is a dwarf that possesses devastating berserker skills. The Shadowblade is a warrior that disappears in the shadows only to lash out with poisonous blades. Using magic and summoning powers, the Witch is favored for ranged combat. Wielding a sword that is part of his makeup, the Templar knight is skilled in melee combat. All of these classes have weaknesses as well which inspires teamwork. It's always advisable to keep both ranged and melee combatants together, as well as a healer on hand for those that brave souls on the frontline. The game really works well when you can find a nest of human players, but in four days I was only able to play a couple of hours before the bots returned.
Dungeon crawling is the reward that keeps on giving. Shooting and looting is the name of the game. There is plenty of combat and action to be had when the game hits its stride. Along with the combat, there is some decent first-person shooting as well, especially in the Relic Conquest mode which is your basic capture-the-flag mode. In this mode, your team must capture three relics essential to your existence. Each relic requires different strategies, which can change depending on the strength of your opponents. There are other dynamic games that you'll find here, a number of them created by members such as the recent two-on-two tournament and a promised three-on-three tournament coming soon. There are also some new patches available that fix a few issues, but friends and bots isn't one of them. You can contact friends online via email as well as search for them by names and nicknames.
The online world is rather small. You're never more than a few paces away from a good fight. While this is great for action buffs, it starts to feel a little claustrophobic after a while. You can't go anywhere without pissing someone off. The environments may look good at first, but once you realize that most of them are little more than paintings that you can't access, you can't help but feel a little cheated. Most of the time you're relegated to small mountain trails and other paths that you can't venture off. The characters do look good, and they animate well. Control is incredibly easy and responsive. No lag, no unresponsive commands. The music conjures imagines of celts and druids. It's haunting and incredibly varied. The slashing of the swords and the groans of the enemy are equally compelling.
Dawnspire is like a cross between Diablo and Gauntlet, but neither game was meant to be played with bots.
CCC Senior Writer
Rating out of 5
You can't access most of the environment. Most of the maps are dull.
Anyone can be up and playing in minutes.
/ Sound FX / Voice Acting
Awesome soundtrack. Sound effects are authentic.
If only more people would show up the game would improve immeasurably.