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Here's the scenario. Imagine for a moment, that after spending a few thousand years languishing in hell, you are unceremoniously plucked back to life by a distraught, balding duke, and his wizard. It seems that events have gone awry in their kingdom because of a cult called "the children of the change". They want you to put things right. No, you don't have a choice; you're under the influence of the summoning spell that brought you here. Before you even have a chance to get dressed, you're attacked by a monk who thinks your presence is offensive to his god. Can anyone wonder why Locke (the main character of Revenant), always seems like he's in a bad mood?
Reviewed by the jaded critic
Revenant is a charming little effort from Cinematix / Eidos Interactive. It's been called an action-RPG. That's true, but it's rather like calling janitors "sanitation engineers". The bottom-line? Revenant is an RPG, Diablo-style. Its claim to fame is its combat system. Combat is all real-time, and is based upon a series of simple strikes. Strikes can be strung together for combos, and new combos are learned as you advance in levels. Quite candidly, combat is a hoot. Locke (and his enemies) are all fairly smoothly animated, and there is nothing quite like the fun of watching Locke scrape his former enemy off his sword with his boot.
Magic is similarly fun. It is based upon the collection of magical talismans. Once you have them, specific combinations produce certain spells. Thankfully, spells can be hot-keyed to the function keys for use in the heat of battle. (Trust me, you won't have time to sift through the entire list). Most all of the spell effects are excellent, extremely colorful and quite flashy. There are a variety of control options available, from mouse, to keyboard, to game pad, and everything in-between. The interface itself is fair, though it does have a tendency to get cluttered very easily. (Just about every creature in the game will end up dropping, muffins, ham, fish, etc. It won't be long before Locke becomes a human buffet.) However, with a little organizing, essential items can be retrieved quickly.
The function keys are used as hotkeys, and that can be a lifesaver. In short, it's not a very intuitive control scheme, but it can be learned with minimal effort. I can honestly say I have no complaints with Revenant's graphics. Characters animations are superb. The backgrounds diverse, quite colorful, and nicely detailed. The spell effects are excellent, and make use of some exceptional lighting. Revenant will rarely leave you without something to see. Sound is exceptional as well. Voice acting is generally quite good, and consistent with each character. Sound effects really shine. Battles are almost more vivid to listen to then look at. Creatures snarl and stomp with exceptional tone, and spells rumble like thunder. Let's just say there's as much to listen to when you're losing as when you're winning. (Regrettably, Revenant does have some compatibility issues with SoundBlaster's environmental audio. SoundBlaster owners can still enjoy the game, but it involves changing one of the .ini files. For more information, look to the Cinematix web site.)
Regrettably, the other necessary ingredient in any RPG is somewhat lacking. Revenant's story is mildly amusing at best. It consists mostly of stereotypical characters and predictable events. The vast majority of your time will be spent crawling from dungeon to dungeon in an attempt to complete the main quest. There are very few side quests, and very little character interaction. This is perhaps symptomatic of Revenant's greatest sin. It lacks depth. Locke is the only available character. You cannot create characters of other classes, because there are no other classes. Fortunately, you can customize him by guiding his growth as you progress through levels, but that's the extent of it. Locke is the only character for the majority of the game. Given the game's combat system, more then one character would have been something of a control nightmare, but, again, a party of one limits the game's depth. There is no real limit to the amount of items one can carry. (Apparently Locke's pouches are VERY deep.)
The entire game consists of something around a dozen monsters and some various bosses. All of these creatures are very well animated, and something of a joy to lock horns with. (I'm partial to the ranthas and lurkers myself). Unfortunately, after you've bested a few hundred of each, the novelty starts to wear off. (I'm sorry, but painting a black dragon silver and giving it more hit points does not qualify as a different kind of creature.) Despite pretty backgrounds, one dungeon inevitably begins to look a bit like the last one.
Occasionally, the story will intrude with a brief character interaction or movie sequence, but it always winds up feeling more like the intermission then the play. Inevitably, Revenant begins to feel less like an RPG and more like a 90's manifestation of the arcade classic Gauntlet. Revenant puts on a good show. In terms of graphics and sound, I haven't seen anything the like in Diablo's estranged family. The combat and magic systems are somewhat different, and can be an enjoyable way to spend some hours. Because of its lack of depth however, it's not for die-hard RPG fans. To those who enjoy a good dungeon crawl - and - hack, Revenant certainly has its charms, and may be worth a second look.
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